Saturday, November 18, 2017

Retailers enjoy £1.75bn Christmas spending boost

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Shops across the country saw a boost of £1.75 billion in Christmas spending last weekend in what was the busiest retail weekend of the year so far.

The West End reaped the rewards of a surge in Christmas shoppers, seeing a 17.7 per cent rise in Saturday footfall against last year and recording sales of over £200 million in a single weekend.

Jace Tyrell, Director of New West End Company, which manages the area around Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, said: “The next eight days are a massive trading opportunity for retailers to really draw ins hoppers visiting London‘s retail heartland, and create a magical Christmas atmosphere for visitors to enjoy.

“This is a critical time for the area, as most retailers will take half their annual profits during the Christmas period.”

Luxury items are selling well in the West End, with Selfridge‘s goose sales up 30 per cent on last year, goose being perceived as more of a gastronomic luxury than turkey.

Between 3 and 4pm on Saturday, the tills at Fortnum & Mason were busier than the best hour in store in 2011, which fell over a week later on December 23rd in that year.

Commenting on the retailer‘s surge in sales, Fortnum & Mason‘s CEO, Ewan Venters, said: “We have had another amazing day, customers want to celebrate Christmas and are stocking up on traditional treats such as Christmas puddings, mince pies and stilton.”

Retailers have been concerned by slow sales in the early part of the festive period, and the Economist Intelligence Unit‘s chief retail analyst, Jon Copestake, believes that this is a result of British shoppers changing their habits.

Mr Copestake said: “The rush of last minute shopping has become a feature of the UK festive calendar in recent years.

“Many left it as late as Christmas Eve last year and the timeliness of weekends around Christmas plays a key part in influencing sales spikes.”

Noting that retailers should be cheered by the prospect of more last-minute shoppers boosting sales next weekend, he added: “Sales may have been distorted by stores bringing forward discounts and the current economic climate has certainly led to many consumers playing a waiting game to take advantage of pre-Christmas sales.”