Lingering fears over the economy as opposed to bad weather conditions were the real reason for slow retail trade over the Christmas period, according to new research from Intersperience.
The study estimates that the industry recorded a sales fall of £245 million compared to last year, with the largest group of consumers, consisting of those over 25, spending £313 per head - a £7 drop from the previous year.
International consumer research specialists Intersperience found that four out of ten shoppers said economic uncertainty made them more cautious and contributed to them remaining frugal, with 70 per cent of shoppers sticking to a budget, a typically uncharacteristic behaviour for the period.
Paul Hudson, CEO of Intersperience, said: “It is clear that people are keeping a much tighter rein on their finances, even though the recession officially ended many months ago.”
The British Retail Consortium and KPMG’s latest Retail Sales Monitor indicated that the heavy snowfall led December’s UK retail sales values to drop 0.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
Intersperience found that the weather conditions boosted internet sales, with 35 per cent of shoppers spending more online than they had expected. However, 68 per cent of those people experienced a problem with website purchasing, which contributed to 25 per cent of consumers spending less online as a result.
Mr Hudson added that: “The majority of those that went online looking for a bargain or to beat the snow had a problem of some kind. Overall, online retailing failed to live up to people’s expectations and the problems they faced receiving orders put them off further internet purchases.”