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Westfield enjoys Boxing Day footfall cheer

Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City attracted a combined 363,000 punters on Boxing Day through a combination of retail deals and experiences, up 3.4% on the same period in 2018.

It was Westfield London’s busiest day since it opened in 2008, with more 189,000 consumers descending on the west London site, with the company attributing a great portion of the success to experience activations.

Among those launched for 2019 were the Winter Village Christmas market, a Nordic-themed Christmas grotto, Naomi Campbell’s Fashion For Relief pop-up store and Merry Mutts Motel at Westfield London.

The firm also said the in-centre services it offers added to its festive attractiveness, including hands-free shopping, gift-wrapping,  concierge  and valet parking.

Myf Ryan, CMO Europe and Group Director of Brand and Strategic Marketing for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said: “Boxing Day has once again proved to be one of the busiest days of the year and we’ve welcomed more than 363,000 visitors across both Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City which is up 3.4%. Local and international visitors have flocked to our centres to make the most of the festive season by combining the best in retail with leisure and entertainment.”

Centre:MK shines spotlight on Christmas shopping habits

Modern men take pride in being skilled Christmas shoppers – compared to their parents who believed present buying was a ‘woman’s job’.

A poll of 2,000 men found that in the 1970s, Christmas shopping was largely a female job, with 73 per cent of husbands leaving the task solely to their wives.

Generations later, men’s attitudes towards gift buying have moved on, with 56 per cent believing men put more time and effort in today than in previous years.

And 43 per cent said modern men independently buy gifts rather than leaving it to others, while 45 per cent think they are more thoughtful and generous.

The study was commissioned by shopping centre centre:mk, and also found the average modern man spends almost two hours selecting the perfect gift for his partner.

But the older age group of 65+ take the least amount of time, at just an hour and 20 minutes.

More than half of younger men also remember their Dad leaving all present buying to their mum.

It also emerged 74 per cent of men enjoy Christmas shopping and 42 per cent rate themselves as ‘good’ at present buying.

A fifth go as far to describe themselves as ‘very good’.

The research also found more than a third of men describe themselves as a ‘listener’ and take hints when present buying, compared to a sixth who admitted they are a last-minute shopper.

And a third believe male shopping habits have been affected by the rise of female independence and prosperity over the past 40 years.

Kim Priest, Head of Marketing at centre:mk, said: “We are seeing a move away from the ‘Last Minute Shoppers’ – men who traditionally leave it to the last minute then run into the centre on Christmas Eve.

“There will always be some man-dashers but it’s fantastic to see that men’s attitudes today have shifted with over a third of men referring to themselves as ‘The Listener’.

“They feel organised, take the hints and know exactly what to buy – how times have changed.”

As part of the research, centre:mk, on the year of its 40th birthday, collaborated with men’s fashion expert and author, Josh Sims, to explore the change in male attitudes to Christmas shopping.

Sims said: “Four decades ago, attitudes to male gifting were very different to today.

“Women were still typically considered home-makers rather than professionals – their Christmas gift was an indicator of the man’s status as the breadwinner.

“Employment for women over the second half of the 1980s then rose at the fastest rate than at any time in the last 40 years which changed things.

“The increased financial independence among women means their partners are free to buy what they want for themselves regardless.”

More than a quarter of respondents reported feeling ‘excited’ about the prospect of gift buying while 18 per cent said that shopping for their loved ones made them feel ‘content’.

More than two fifths of those polled via OnePoll also spend the most money on their significant other, splurging an average of £137.

Perfume and jewellery were revealed as the most popular modern-day items gifted from men to the loved ones in their lives.

In this way, gift-giving in 2019 aligns with 1970s trends, where perfume and jewellery were also popular.

Interestingly, there was more disparity between the percentage of women receiving domestic items as Christmas gifts.

Between 1971 and 1989, one in every three items gifted to women from their partners fell into this category, with prime examples being ironing boards, washing machines and kitchen gadgets.

In 2019, however, such items make up only 12 per cent of favoured women’s presents.

According to Sims, there are the main categories male gifters fall into:

THE LISTENER: He’s taken the hints and made a list. Although there may be no big reveal on the day – half of men buy their partners whatever it is they’ve been asked to buy.

THE FRUGAL SHOPPER: The times are tight. Or he is. Either way, for 18 per cent of men Christmas is about keeping the money wrapped up in the bank and not under the tree.

THE LAST MINUTE SHOPPER: Has he been planning for months, only at the last minute choosing to execute his plan? Or has he not realised Christmas comes the same time every year? Some 16 per cent of men leave their shopping to the week before the festive day.

THE BIG SPENDER: Mr. Big splashes the cash. It may not be on something you actually want but never mind that. He’s one of the eight per cent of men who like to impress with an expensive gift such as a tablet or a phone.

KING OF CASH: What could that slim, envelope-shaped gift under the tree be? Oh, it’s an envelope – with cash in it. Playing it safe, seven per cent of men give their partners money for the festive season.

MR. ME: You live together, right? So what he buys for you could be, something for him as well. Around four per cent of men buy a gift they actually want themselves

Christmas is coming: 3 ways retailers can ensure a more profitable festive season

Simon Wilson, HPE Aruba UK & Ireland, discusses how the High Street can leverage technology to boost the bottom line this Christmas...

With news that Selfridges have already opened their festive bauble shop, it seems Christmas is now front of mind for retailers. And for bricks-and-mortar stores battling against depleting footfalls and decaying consumer confidence, these Christmas trading figures will be crucial. 

Last year, the high street’s struggle to drive Christmas sales was blamed on online retail. However, there is more to the story of physical versus digital than meets the eye. As we edge ever closer to the festive season, retailers need reminding that e-retail is not the enemy. It is the customer who is changing the retail landscape, as consumer behaviour is changing at an unprecedented rate which is creating new demands and pressures for offline and online retailers alike. 

In fact, digital platforms such as Amazon are now looking into an in-store approach with Amazon Go, and internet sales still only represent under 25% of overall retail sales, signalling the continued consumer appetite for an in-person shopping experience. 

Brick and mortar retailers have enormous opportunity to leverage the distinct benefits of traditional, in-person shopping in ways that digital sites can only dream about. This Christmas, the winners will be those who are able to transport the digital world into their stores in order to create convenient and memorable shopping experiences. 

So, considering 85% of consumers still prefer to physically purchase products in-person, here’s 3 ways retailers can use physical stores to their advantage in the digital age and help drive Christmas sales…

  1. Bring the shopping experience to life 

Whilst traditional retail businesses based on brick-and-mortar stores urgently need to update their business models, they also need to start recognising the unique advantages their physical locations offer – and then using technology to enhance them. 

After all, unlike shopping online, brick-and-mortar stores can offer the possibility of in-person interactions with retail staff, as well as unique shared experiences that transcend traditional shopping routines. Take Virgin Holidays, which has opened a new chain of retail concept stores, with the aim to create an immersive environment and allow shoppers to try out various elements of the Virgin Holidays experience. Here, customers can test-run upper class seats in the mock-up of a Virgin Atlantic cabin, or visit the virtual reality installation, which takes people on a ‘rollercoaster’ of global Christmas holiday destinations.

This idea of ‘reverse showrooming’, when consumers research items/holidays online and then visit a store to try it out and receive expert advice rather than browsing in store and then going home to buy online, has been mirrored by Mango. The fashion retailers have leveraged technology to offer a similarly personalised service. Many of their fitting rooms now include radio frequency identification technology (RFID), which offers up recommended or co-ordinating items when a customer scans something. 

It’s not just about providing an immersive experience, and retailers must also utilise technology to provide shoppers with the most convenient visit possible. With daunting Christmas shopping queues in mind, Zara have launched self-service kiosks, which will no doubt streamline the purchase experience. 

The more retailers can play up these three elements, the more they can win back the hearts and minds of consumers, using the opportunity of in-store interaction to their unique advantage.

2. Break down siloes to connect shopper behaviour online and in-store

If retailers invest properly in infrastructure that breaks down internal siloes, they will be able to offer consumers a truly omnichannel shopping experience. Until recently, there was no connection between what a shopper bought or looked at online and their behaviour in-store. But knowing who the customer is, where they are, and their preferences is critical. To do this, retailers are using analytics, location, and context, and seeing rising sales as a result. 

The benefits of blending online services with in-store operations are exemplified by the rising popularity of cross-platform Click & Collect options. Consumers want to shop when and where the want, and the advent of Click & Collect has proven itself attractive to customers who desire more flexibility from their delivery options.

This service combines the convenience of internet shopping (easily comparing prices and filtering through what you want), with the in-store ease of collection, all the while driving people into physical stores at the same time. In fact, this service drives impulse buys, with research showing that 24% of European shoppers make unintended purchases while picking up their items in store. As retailers face backlogs of deliveries in the build up to the festive period, this alternative option can help ensure customer expectations are met. 

By aligning back-end operations with front-end customer service, and using technology at every step of the supply chain, the retail industry will start to get a single, multi-channel view of its omnichannel customers. This is exactly what it needs to offer the seamless, streamlined experience that consumers now demand.

3. Gather deeper insight into stock and inventory

Tied to the above point, part of developing insight into a customer’s in-store behaviour includes collecting data around stock and inventory.  At present, the structure of many retailers fails to live up to the needs of modern customers. Stock is typically siloed, and allocated to different pools that serve the physical shop, ecommerce, pop-ups, and wholesale. But this kind of approach is no longer fit for purpose in an omnichannel world. With growing customer demand to access any item through any channel at any time, retailers need to have a precise picture of their inventory 24/7.

To achieve this, and ultimately increase profit margins and retain customers, retailers must improve their data systems and make better use of inventory tracking technology. Investing in technologies such as radio-frequency identification and electronic shelf labels will enable retailers to monitor stock levels in real-time, and ensure they know exactly what they have in at any given time. Not only will this avoid customer disappointment in out-of-stock items but it maximises efficiencies, saving the retailer time and money in the long-run. 

The retailers who thrive during the Christmas build up, will be those that are able to reimagine and redefine their stores for the digital age. If technology is embraced and integrated in a way that empowers employees, serves customers and improves the bottom line, retailers can look forward to a profitable Christmas. 

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay


7 things to plan in September to get Christmas right in grocery retail

Ian Hall, COO, Atheon Analytics shares pragmatic, real-world and data-driven advice to help prevent grocery retailers and suppliers from making avoidable mistakes and missed sales at Christmas...

You don’t have to be a retail expert to foresee an uplift in turkeys, alcohol, and mince pies through December, but in reality almost all products see a dramatic increase leading up to Christmas – simply put, people buy more of (almost) everything.

The week leading up to Christmas is by far the biggest sales week of the year for almost all suppliers (unless you are in the Valentines or Easter egg business), but an often overlooked fact is that the week after Christmas normally sees the lowest sales of the year. Fresh suppliers, in particular, need to consider the impact on waste and replenishment orders that comes from people having plenty of food in, living off turkey sandwiches for 7 days, and shops that are barely open.

The graph below is a typical annual profile of weekly sales for a supplier that has ‘core grocery’ products (Jan-Dec):

Let’s start by making a key distinction – Christmas products vs seasonally affected products:

  • Christmas-only products are those which are ranged temporarily, and are sometimes even themed (such as dog toys that look like reindeers) – they often come in as a job-lot, depending on shelf-life, and are cleared immediately after Christmas.
  • Seasonally affected lines can have just as big an uplift in sales at this time of year but are ranged all year round (e.g. Stilton cheese). Almost all lines in a store are seasonally affected in some way at Christmas.

For Christmas-only products, there are limits to what you can do at this time of year, and seasonal product forecasts tend to be self-fulfilling i.e. with products sourced from the Far East, the volumes are typically agreed in March, shipped through the summer, into retailer depot in September, and in store at the start of October (much to general public outcry!).

Everything that is shipped to the retailer gets sold (sometimes on markdown post-Christmas), and best sellers can run out early – unless you are Mystic Meg you will have either guessed at (sorry, ‘forecast’) too much volume, or too little. The balance for the supplier is to avoid missing sales by supplying too little versus getting hammered for markdown rebates in January when the excess stock is cleared at a fraction of the RRP.

All other products in store will be affected, to a greater or lesser degree, by the general uplift in sales; but why does this matter if stores order more every time they sell one? Three important reasons:

  • If suppliers don’t forecast accurately they may not be able to produce enough to replenish orders
  • Depots are incredibly busy through December – it is not always easy to get delivery slots (if you supply washing powder you are going to be de-prioritised vs Christmas crackers and mince pies)
  • Most of the sales uplift occurs in the 7 days leading up to Christmas – by the time products are replenished, it’s over

We would probably all recognise these typical Christmas shopper habits:

  • 4 weeks to Christmas – we load up the cupboards
  • 1 week to go – buy all the fresh stuff, and impulse/distress purchases
  • 1 week after Christmas – we live on turkey sandwiches, and the shops are not open for normal trading hours
  • January – everyone renews their gym memberships, has some vague thoughts about ‘dry-January’, and lives off soup and slim-fast

But of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

There are some subtle trends to be aware of:

  • The “mother-in-law effect” – most consumers trade up to more premium products in December. Nobody quite knows why – maybe it’s because you have more visitors, or want to impress the in-laws, but people buy more quilted toilet rolls and branded washing up liquid
  • The shopper is not always the consumer – of vital importance all year round, but amplified at Christmas; for example, most beer is purchased by women but consumed by men. Take this one step further when you consider pet food, and further still when you realise that people buy gifts for friends with dogs and cats! So whilst you might not have thought about it, sales of dog toys rise disproportionately in December (and not just on Christmas-only lines – even things like tennis balls may quadruple in sales). Just because dogs don’t eat more in December does not mean that pet food is a static category from a sales perspective!
  • Weather makes a difference – a cold snap will lead to panic-buying (even things like dishwasher salt and cat-litter to clear snow!)
  • Christmas Day falls on different days of the week – it is really important to know which day Christmas falls on (yes, I know it’s December 25th, but which day of the week is that?). Christmas is a Wednesday this year; that probably means that people will be doing their ‘big shop’ on the preceding weekend (Friday/Saturday/Sunday). Very few people leave their main shop until Christmas Eve but, equally, if Christmas falls on a Friday not many people are going to buy their sprouts and double cream 5 days before. This has a big effect on the last few days of sales, and is extremely important for suppliers of short-life products. In 2017 the peak trading day was Friday 22nd – this will probably extend to Saturday 21st this year
  • Depots have fixed capacity – retailer depots will be bursting at the seams, and booking slots are limited, so you need to be precise with delivery planning and highly reactive to traffic challenges – get on the front foot and talk to your retailer customers in advance
  • Planning and forecasting varies by category – some categories are harder than others to get right. Some can be forecast at the category level, for example if products can be easily substituted, and are impulse purchases, such as dog toys – if one toy runs out, chances are that the shopper will buy a different one. In other categories, forecasting only makes sense at SKU level – if you run out of sprouts, people won’t simply buy broccoli as a substitute, and I for one would be dismayed to be offered Dairylea with my glass of port just because the shop was out of Stilton
  • Waste and Availability remains a delicate balance – the age-old balance between availability and wastage is never more important than at Christmas. You don’t want to run out of stock and lose sales to competitors at this key trading time, but excess stock will turn into waste in the days after Christmas, or 7 days, 21 days, 30 days later, depending on shelf-life

So what – what can you do with this insight?

  1. Monitor sales daily – it is no good reviewing on a weekly basis and not being able to react in time
  2. Collaborate with your retailer now – share your forecasts for December, and share analysis from last year – poor availability can be eliminated with better forecasts, but time and time again we see suppliers losing sales in December because their lead times do not allow them to react quickly to sales that could easily have been anticipated. Get the stock through the depots and allocated to store ahead of the sales spike!
  3. Use detailed historic data to forecast – blend sales and availability information to get the best picture you can of true demand. Where appropriate, ensure that you forecast at SKU, not category level; Stilton and Brie do not behave the same as the cheese category in general
  4. Monitor (depot and store) stock not just sales – you cannot react quickly enough to sales in late December, so track stock levels and use these to predict potential availability and waste issues
  5. Manage stock run-down on seasonal and short-life SKUs – remember those days after Christmas when the stores will be closed, and nobody is shopping
  6. Plan replenishment and ‘business as usual’ trading for early January – unless you sell Weightwatchers products or Baileys
  7. Analyse your data to win more business – analysis in January is the best way to predict order volumes for next year, and the earlier you do this, the more effectively you can begin to collaborate with the retailers

Multiple retailers ‘out-perform’ over Christmas period

A significant number of retailers are posting upbeat sales figures during the Christmas period, including Selfridges, Next, John Lewis, Aldi and Dunelm.

Selfridges revealed what it called a ‘record-breaking’ Christmas trading period, with sales up by eight per cent in the final week before Christmas and up 10 per cent in its Oxford Street flagship store during the 24 days prior to Christmas, driven it aid by exclusive products.

Meanwhile, supermarket Aldi reported its ‘best-ever Christmas period’, with sales topping £1 billion in December as a whole, fuelled in part by 17 million bottles of wine, champagne and prosecco sold.

Homeware specialist Dunelm reported a 5.7 per cent increase is sales for the 13-week period ended December 29th, with total like-for-like revenue in its second quarter up a 9 per cent and online revenue up 37.9 per cent.

High street fashion retailer Next reported a sales growth of 1.5% for the last two months of 2018, with a spike in sales from the last three weeks of December, helping to save the chain and Christmas blushes.

However, there was a stark contrast between the store’s brick and mortar premises and online operation, with sales down 9.2% in the High Street, compared with a jump in website sales of 15.2%.

Lower profit margins have now been forecast as a result of fulfilling web orders, bringing annual profit down by £4m to £723m, with predictions of profits falling again Christmas 2019.

“Full price sales for the Christmas trading period have been in line with the guidance we gave in September,” the Next chief executive, Simon Wolfson, said. “Strong sales in the three weeks prior to Christmas along with a good half-term holiday week at the end of October made up for disappointing sales in November.”

Department store chain John Lewis also reported a strong finish to retail sales through the Christmas period as customers made late buying decisions, with an 11% rise in sales in the last week of 2018 compared to sales this time last year.

Attention will now focus on competitors Debenhams and Marks and Spencers.

“We think John Lewis and Next will have outperformed, however, so we still wouldn’t rule out some bad news from Debenhams or M&S,” retail analyst Nick Bubb said.

Modest Christmas cheer for UK retail with £99bn ‘golden quarter’ sales forecast

Bucking the current gloomy trends, GlobalData has forecast that total UK retail sales in Q4 will rise by 2.0% to £98.8bn.

Food & grocery spend is set to drive this, as food inflation leads to a 2.5% increase in this category, while Non-food spend is forecast to grow at 1.6%, with health & beauty predicted to be the best performing retail sector.

GlobalData says that while it has been a year of retail failures, profit warnings and store closures so far, the ‘golden quarter’ offers retailers the opportunity to gain sales from consumers who are finally ready to prioritise shopping.

However, it cautions that low consumer confidence and confusion over Brexit will inhibit big-ticket spend, and that trading down to value retailers is becoming more widespread, due to the rapid store expansion of players such as B&M and Home Bargains.

Food & grocery

GlobalData says growth within food & grocery will slow to 2.5% this Christmas, against an inflation-driven comparative in Q4 2017 (3.6%), as food inflation falls.

Both food and alcoholic beverages will see a significant fall in volume growth compared to Q4 2017, as consumers trade down in both of these categories.

However, it says food is more resilient to low consumer confidence than other retail sectors due to its essential nature. Expected trends that retailers will focus on over Christmas include alcohol-free beverages (e.g. flavoured tonic waters), specialist teas, and plant-based protein side dishes (e.g. lentils, quinoa, chickpeas & tofu).

Fashion & beauty

It has been a less than stellar year for many clothing retailers and Q4 will be no different, according to GlobalData. Midmarket players are expected to be left out in the cold once again as shoppers trade up for enhanced quality, making it yet another challenging Christmas ahead for clothing market leader M&S.

Giving shoppers a reason to make wants-driven purchases, and forgo spending on other categories, through compelling product and value for money will be the key to a successful festive season. Online pureplays such as ASOS and boohoo are likely to be the biggest winners this Christmas given their potent mix of discounts, and fast and convenient fulfilment.

Health & beauty remains a ‘winner’ at Christmas and shoppers are expected to splurge on premium lines for both gifting and self-treating. This is helped by a wider choice of brands and greater shopper knowledge, especially in terms of ingredients. With the appeal of department stores on the wane, we expect online pureplays to take advantage, luring shoppers in with discounts and loyalty schemes.

Electricals & entertainment

With Q4 accounting for a third of annual electricals spend, GlobalData says the period offers retailers the best opportunity to capture spend as shoppers benefit from discounting periods such as Black Friday and early Boxing Day sales. Less generous discounting last year deterred shoppers from splurging on these occasions, but volumes are forecast to grow this year as cost prices level.

Mobile phones, laptops and tablets will offer the greatest growth potential for retailers, with Apple releasing its budget-friendly iPhone XR and MacBook Air in the period. While Apple is still much more expensive than its competitors, these new releases offer retailers an opportunity to entice less-affluent shoppers to trade up when buying gifts during the festive season.

In entertainment, the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 this month has been highly anticipated and is likely to drive spend in Christmas gifting. More Nintendo Switch games are available this year which is necessary to mitigate the lack of a stand-out new console.


The home category, which includes furniture and floorcoverings, homewares, and DIY and gardening is forecast by GlobalData to grow 0.6% in the final quarter of 2018 compared with the previous year. Much of this growth will come from homewares (+1.4% year-on-year), which has been more resilient in 2018 than other home categories; consumers have sought to refresh their homes, and interest in interior design has grown through social media and fashion retailers’ own home collections. The effects of the latter should be particularly notable over the seasonal period.


Capping off a strong year for the UK online market in which multichannel retailers have consistently reported robust digital growth, Christmas is set to be the icing on the cake with more consumers than ever choosing to buy online for the festive period, according to GlobalData.

It says online pureplays will prove popular again this year thanks to their best-in-class shopping experience. Amazon is set to remain a top choice for gift purchases as its broad product range appeals, and as Amazon Prime subscribers turn to the retailer as their first port of call.

Online spend will be bolstered this Christmas by Instagram’s shopping function, which launched this year, as well as Pinterest featuring direct links to retailers’ product pages. The ease of purchase through social media will drive impulse purchases of partywear as well as gifts across sectors.

New figures reveal 2017 retail footfall ends on a slump

New figures compiled by analytics firm Springboard have revealed that retail footfall across the UK decreased by 3.5% year-on-year in December, the steepest decline since March 2013 when footfall declined by 5.2%.

The drop, the steepest decline in almost five years, has been put down to a number of factors, including stagnant wages and a jump in inflation.

“The drop in footfall of -3.3% in the weeks leading up to Christmas provided a heads-up for December, with the final outcome of -3.5% of little surprise,” commented Diane Wehrle, director of marketing and insights at Springboard.

“This is a significant weakening in performance from December 2016 when footfall in retail destinations dropped by just 0.2 per cent.”

Responding to the figures, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive, British Retail Consortium, said:

“The sharp drop in footfall this December, while sales grew overall, underlines how shopping is being transformed by the shift to online.

“In the past, shoppers would have exclusively visited physical stores to ensure stockings were filled for Christmas. Improved delivery options by both purely digital retailers and those with stores and an online offer mean many purchases of last minute gifts are moving online.

“The squeeze on discretionary spending also contributed to the decline in footfall. Households had to use their money more carefully, researching products online, rather than heading out to stores to browse.

“Retail parks fared slightly better than high streets by providing Christmas shoppers with the draw and convenience of parking, easy click-and-collect, and leisure facilities.”

Gear4Music bangs the drum in third fiscal quarter

UK Music superstore Gear4Music has struck a chord with retailers over the Christmas period, with total sales up 42% to £36 million in the four months to December 31st, compared to £24.4 million over the same Christmas period in 2016.

The company said that strong international demand has driven sales, with sales across mainland Europe up to £15.8 million compacted to £9.4 million during the same final quarter.

“We are very pleased with our trading performance over the last four months, with sales growth of 42 per cent building on the 44 per cent achieved in the first half, and trading for the year to date is in line with the board’s expectation,” commented Andrew Wass, chief executive, Gear4Music.

“This has been achieved as we continue to invest in our customer proposition, marketing, people and websites, all with a view to enhancing our long-term growth prospects.

“We are confident that the group will continue to grow rapidly over the medium and longer term, as we continue our mission to become the best musical instrument and equipment retailer in Europe.”

Spending this Christmas predicted to dip

Research compiled by HIS Market for Visa has predicted a dip in Christmas spend – the first time in five years – on household goods, clothing and trips away by 0.1 per cent, with the High Street expected to drop for a third consecutive year by 2.1 per cent.

On a brighter note, online sales are predicted to be strong, rising to 3.6 per cent and predicted to be 40p in every pound spent during the seasonal period.

“Looking back, consumers were in a sweet spot in 2016 – low inflation and rising wages meant there was a little extra in household budgets to spend on the festive period,” said Visa’s chief commercial officer Mark Antipof.

“This year has seen a reversal of fortunes – with inflation outpacing wage growth and the recent interest rate rise leaving shoppers with less money in their pockets.

“Although overall sales are likely to disappoint, we expect some clear winners to emerge. Online and mobile are set to take a record share of Christmas spending.

“Hotels, restaurants and bars are also forecast to report strong growth as Britons choose to celebrate Christmas and New Year closer to home.”

More shoppers head online for Black Friday

More people are expected to shop online than ever before for this year’s Black Friday deals.

Black Friday Deals Online, a website that works by connecting consumers with stores and brands participating in the annual discount day, recently conducted online studies, revealing that 90% of people aged 18-44 who are planning to make Black Friday purchases, will do so from the comfort of their home or desk.

Preeti Vadgama, marketing director of Black Friday Deals Online said: “Black Friday is a time of year that induces excitement and dread in equal measure. While the prospect of receiving great deals just before Christmas is an exciting one and means people can get some great price reductions on things for their loved ones, the thought of heading to overly-crowded stores filled with ruthless shoppers can be a daunting one.”

“Luckily, our website offers an alternative to this. We make it possible for shoppers to browse products and services from a number of retailers all in one place, making it easier than ever to receive great discounts without having to even step foot out of the house. The survey found that a vast majority of shoppers aged 18-44 will be shopping online for Black Friday, and our website is the perfect destination for those types of consumers.”

The online survey was conducted by YouGov, an international internet-based market research and data analysis firm, and also revealed that 93% of shoppers taking part in Black Friday, aged 25-34 would purchase online, demonstrating a shift in the way that younger consumers are choosing to buy from their favourite retail outlets.

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