Welcome to Top Store

Best Products at Best Prices

0$0.00

No products in the cart.

Boxing Day sales dip blamed on poor weather and Black Friday | Business


The Boxing Day sales were a damp squib for struggling high street retailers with the much smaller crowds blamed on a combination of bad weather and rival Black Friday discounts offered in November.

Shoppers still started queueing before dawn outside shopping centres such as the Trafford Centre in Manchester and branches of high street chain Next. However, by closing time retail experts suggested visitor numbers were around 10% down on 2018.

Retail analysts Springboard said the 9.8% drop was the biggest since 2010’s Boxing Day when the UK economy was at a virtual standstill. Diane Wehrle, its insights director, said the figure was very disappointing: “The drop is much bigger than anticipated, it seems like the steam was taken out of Christmas by Black Friday.”

The significance of the Boxing Day sales has been diminished by the blizzard of price cuts offered before Christmas. This year, in particular, retailers slashed prices in a bid to tempt out shoppers who were reluctant to spend given the uncertainty around Brexit and the 12 December general election. Major stores such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis also start their online sales on Christmas Eve, removing another reason to brave the weather.

There have already been reports that Black Friday sales were “outstanding” this year although there is no official sales data yet. Analysts said there was scope for retailers to make up lost ground on the 27 and 28 December which are also big shopping days.

Wehrle said: “This result reflects a number of underlying structural changes in terms of how consumers shop, with more going online, the increased spending around Black Friday and the fact that the number of blended families means that many consumers are still celebrating Christmas on Boxing Day with their family. In combination, these changes mean that Boxing Day is indisputably a less important trading day than it once was.”

The number of Britons heading to the shops on Boxing Day has now fallen for four years in a row. A big factor has been competition from the virtual high street, with online now hoovering up around a third of spending on clothes and gifts in December. Black Friday is predominantly an online event although this year it also boosted visitor numbers to physical stores.

On Thursday, Amazon told investors it had a “record-breaking” holiday season with “billions of items ordered worldwide”. In a statement, Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and chief executive, said: “This holiday season has been better than ever thanks to our customers and employees all around the world.” The retailer said the number of items delivered to members of its Prime subscription service had quadrupled, while 5 million people had signed up to the service in one week alone.

Springboard said the UK’s struggling high streets had been hardest hit, with visitor numbers down nearly 14% versus an 8% drop in shopping centres and 3% in retail parks. Part of the fall was down to the rainy weather which deters shoppers from visiting high streets, Wehrle said.

No single region escaped a drop in footfall, although greater London fared better, down 7%compared with 17% in Northern Ireland and 14% in both Scotland and Wales.

But while shopping habits may be changing over time there are still a large number of bargain hunters keen to make the most of the bank holiday. The first shoppers arrived at Manchester’s Trafford Centre at around 4am – two hours before the stores opened – with big crowds also reported outside Next branches around the country. Next does not cut its prices pre-Christmas so its promise that clothes will be “at least half price” still draws huge crowds of loyal shoppers.

Despite its waning popularity, Boxing Day sales are still huge with analysts expecting a total spend of around £4bn. The big headline figure masks the shift taking place, with £3.2bn to be spent in physical stores – down 12% on 2018, according to analysis by VoucherCodes and the Centre for Retail Research. By comparison, online spending is set to rise 10% to £1.1bn.

A separate survey by Barclaycard had also predicted Boxing Day spending would be down after seeing a huge surge in transactions on Black Friday and also detecting a growing desire to be environmentally friendly by buying less. Rob Cameron, chief executive of Barclays Payments, said: “Our data for Black Friday and Cyber Monday revealed a huge jump in transaction volumes this year, so it’s not surprising that consumers expect to have less money to spend after Christmas.”

While mainstream chains are struggling, top-end stores such as Harrods and Selfridges continue to prosper amid a growing number of “ultra-rich” Britons – and an influx of well-heeled tourists. Selfridges said its winter sale had got off to a flying start with sales on a par with last year – which was its biggest ever trading day.

Michael Ward, managing director at Harrods, said Boxing Day at the 170-year-old store – where shoppers had to spend £2,000 before their child could visit its Swarovski crystal-encrusted Santa’s grotto – would be among its busiest days. Monday and Tuesday were also huge trading days, amid a late dash to the Knightsbridge store for gifts. Ward said: “We had a really good Christmas, this year will be ahead of last.”



Source link