Christmas shopping has not picked up
According to accounting firm KPMG, anxious retailers got more bad news on Monday when a survey showed that 40 per cent of shoppers had not yet started their Christmas shopping, compared with 36 percent at this time last year.
The economic slowdown and high prices have kept the retail market in the country in a virtual stagnation. Retail spending has slumped this year as rising interest rates, a rise in oil prices and stagnant house prices have discouraged purchases of discretionary items such as clothing and home improvements.
The survey found that 24 percent of shoppers said they had already completed over half their Christmas shopping, which was down from 27 per cent at this time last year.
“Every year, the main concern amongst retailers is how late people will leave it to complete their Christmas shopping,” said Helen Dickinson, head of retail at the accounting firm.
“Perhaps the anticipated squeeze on consumer spending is hitting home with even the most organised and ahead-of-time Christmas shoppers. People are tightening their belts in terms of how much they intend to spend, so retailers will be nervous as they wait for the final buying surge and holding that nerve without giving in to the temptation of announcing further discounts and sales will be key,” she added.
The survey, conducted by polling organisation YouGov, found that those mainly responsible for the slower start of shopping were men and shoppers over 30 years of age. Shoppers had already spent, on average, £104 on Christmas gifts.
With spending expected to be an average of £404, the latter group had so far spend only £132, leaving £272 to play with.