This Christmas saw high streets in the UK endure a disappointing festive trading season, with underlying sales down 0.1 per cent on 2015 — making it the worst trading month since 2008.
New figures from consultancy firm BDO have revealed that this December’s sales fell for the fourth consecutive year in a row.
Clothing stores continued to suffer, with sales at stores open for more than a year down by just over one per cent, but this was offset by a rise in homeware and lifestyle retail sales, up 2.6 and 2.4 per cent respectively, as sales of wrapping paper and bikes skyrocketed.
Meanwhile, online sales during the period shot up 19 per cent, increasing to an enormous 51 per cent increase in the final week of December compared to 2015.
BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said: “We have seen a shift towards online for a number of years but it was more pronounced in December partly because the weak pound drew spend from overseas.
“It’s also the convenience and comfort of being able to shop from your own home, and we have got a very savvy shopper benchmarking sale prices.”
Haitong Research analyst Tony Shiret also argued that Black Friday would have influenced sales over Christmas, “displacing profitable pre-Christmas sales with unprofitable sales in November”.
This trend has been mirrored in research from Springboard this week which suggests that footfall over the season’s top shopping days also fell, with analysts attributing growing anxiety over the economy and the increased ease of online shopping to the reduction in footfall.