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Christmas 'at least as good as last year'-say most retailers

A majority of retailers feel Christmas will be no worse than last year, despite the financial pressures of the last twelve months and the recent disruptive snowfall.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Christmas 'at least as good as last year'-say most retailers

A majority of retailers feel Christmas will be no worse than last year, despite the financial pressures of the last twelve months and the recent disruptive snowfall.

The British Retail Consortium's (BRC's) Christmas Trading Snapshot Survey published today (Monday) shows almost two thirds of retail businesses responding expect sales to be the same or better than last Christmas (same 29 per cent, better 35 per cent), although 36 per cent are braced for figures to be down. Stores are offering exceptional numbers of promotions and discounts to customers, 41 per cent providing more than last year.

Seventy one per cent of retailers think the January rise in VAT to 20 per cent means customers are bringing forward purchases, and more than eight out of ten expect the VAT change to have a negative impact on sales in January.

Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "It's reassuring to see a majority of retailers believe Christmas sales will be at least as good as last year even if a third say they will be worse. But, considering inflation is now at 3.2 per cent, growth of anything less then that would be a real-terms fall.

"Promotions have hit a new level of intensity, retailers believe the next VAT rise is bringing sales forward and Christmas is usually a time when people spend despite their economic worries but ultimately December could prove to be the ninth month in a row of weak year-on-year growth."

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