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RETAIL ENVIRONMENT

There is little to cheer about this Christmas, says BRC report

There will be a number of challenges facing retailers this Christmas, according to the latest British Retail Consortium’s Festive FAQ 2019/2020.

Rising crime and sluggish sales in stores are likely to impact the bottom line, according to the report which said that despite the retail industry investing £1 billion a year in combatting crime, with a major focus on violence, nearly 115 colleagues are attacked every day, just for doing their job.

“For us this is a human issue, with the effects felt by our colleagues and their families and loved ones. The case is clear for the Government to take action to make sentences fit the crime and deliver an appropriate police response,” the report concludes.

The Office for National Statistics saw over £80 billion spent in December and November last year, but according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, revenue growth year to date has averaged a relatively meagre 0.1 per cent.

But, the report predicts, November and December sales will be higher, which would mean total spending of approximately £82 billion this festive period.

Drilling down into the figures, the BRC quotes the Bank of England which forecasts a typical UK household spends approximately £2,000 per month, but when Christmas rolls around, this increases by an extra £500.

In addition, over the Christmas period, shoppers will spend an estimated 16 per cent more on food, 39 per cent more on alcohol and 85 per cent more on books.

And, continuing the positive theme, anaemic sales growth seen over the course of the year, is expected to pick up slightly in the festive season.

However, Brexit and the December General Election have had a further unsettling effect on the festive market, 
according to the GfK Consumer Confidence Index, with the overall figure remaining significantly below par throughout the entirety of 2019, with minor oscillations towards the end of the year, it highlights evidence of a slight increase in both consumer outlook for the future and enthusiasm for making larger purchases.

The BRC study added: “Given that in store footfall has been on a downward trend in the UK (as more is spent online), the festive period is likely to see even fewer visits to the shops than last year.

“However, with many shoppers not wanting torisk last minute home deliveries, shops are likely to be very busy in the last week before Christmas. Many consumers head to stores to buy last minute presents and Christmas dinner supplies, with others making the most of last-minute click-and-collect services.

“The weekend before Christmas will be the busiest days for stores, although with Christmas Eve falling on a Tuesday, we are likely to see some of the activity which was concentrated on the weekend last year, spilling over into Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th.”

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