Post Christmas shoppers hit high streetWednesday, 29 December 2010
All the signs were favourable for very strong sales this week with the weather expected to improve, the VAT rise just round the corner, and strong competition and promotional campaigns to encourage bargain hunting, he added.
But economists warned that the flurry of activity was unlikely to suggest a bumper year for consumer spending in 2011.
“A key question for retailers and the economy in general is how much the spending in the sales is bringing forward consumption from 2011, thereby limiting expenditure in the early months of next year,” said Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight, a consultancy.
Neil Bennett of Experian Footfall, a research group, expected the bank holidays at the start of this week to be “phenomenally busy”, with shoppers venting pent-up enthusiasm after the disruption to normal shopping caused by cold weather in the run-up to Christmas and the anticipation of January’s VAT rise.
Andrew Murphy, retail director of John Lewis, the department store group, warned against overestimating the effect on sales of the impending VAT rise: “Although I think we are on for an exceptionally good day’s trading and a good week, I don’t think it will be unduly influenced by either the tax rise or the difficult weather.”
The surge of post-Christmas shopping was partly a response to people having been cooped up for several days with their family, he added. “The sales shopping phenomenon has been building up for some time. . . . The UK public is just enjoying getting out and being around people.”
Nonetheless, millions still preferred to shop from home.
Boxing day was the busiest day of the year for online retailers during 2010, according to Hitwise UK, an internet research company. Amazon, eBay and Argos were the most visited websites on the day, but department stores and fashion retailers accounted for 13 of the 20 most visited retail websites.
IMRG, an industry body for online retailing, said it estimated internet spending would break through the £300m mark for the first time on Boxing day. It predicted that about £153m was spent on Christmas day, a rise of 15 per cent on 2009, with some 4.8m people shopping online.