Retailers feel confident in run-up to Christmas
According to a survey of multi-channel retailers commissioned by Barclays’ Retail & Wholesale banking team, 70% of retailers are feeling more confident about Christmas trading compared to last year. This also includes 28% who said they are “far more” confident.
This festive cheer compares favourably to last year, when 52% of those surveyed said they were feeling optimistic about the trading period ahead.
In addition, 72% of retailers polled this year said that they expected revenues to increase, with 21% anticipating that sales will increase by 10% or more compared to 2013.
Retailers are expecting to see growth across all of their sales channels over Christmas, with 35% of retailers predicting that tablets will be their main sales channel from a growth perspective, ahead of smartphones and stores, both at 19%. Meanwhile, retailers also believe that shopping for gifts via social networking sites could increase by over a fifth compared to 2013.
Richard Lowe, head of retail & wholesale at Barclays, said: “2014 has been a good year for many retailers thanks to heightened consumer confidence and this is clearly reflected in their brighter outlook for the Christmas season. It’s interesting to see that purchases on tablets have been cited as retailers’ biggest opportunity for growth and social commerce is also one to watch in the future, as ‘buy buttons’ on social networking sites will make online shopping even more accessible.”
The popularity of American shopping days is also on the up, with 65% of retailers planning Black Friday promotions on 28 November, the day after Thanksgiving. 69% of those surveyed also said that they expect the popularity of Black Friday promotions to continue to gain traction in the UK in the years ahead.
Another tradition that has crossed the Atlantic is Mega Monday, traditionally the busiest online shopping day in America, which is set to fall on 1 December. 96% of the retailers questioned predicted that traffic will increase to their site on Mega Monday, compared to last year.
Lowe added: “The UK hasn’t seen Black Friday and Mega Monday fall on the same weekend since 2008 so retailers will be pulling out all the stops to make it a great shopping experience with some dazzling offers. However, some consumers will opt to leave their Christmas shopping later than this, thanks to improved delivery and Click and Collect options.”
While practical gifts were viewed by 51% of retailers surveyed as the most popular type of Christmas present this year, this has dwindled from 69% in 2013 as an increasing number of retailers said they thought that frivolous, fun presents will be more popular than in previous years. Meanwhile 12% said that shoppers will be more likely to purchase a few expensive luxury gifts instead, reflecting the UK’s burgeoning consumer confidence.
On Christmas Day itself, 99% of retailers polled said they expect traffic to their sites to be up as shoppers scour for sale bargains, with the peak time for online shopping predicted to be between 8pm and 10pm.
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