Festive cheer for High Street Retailers

Featuring Stephen Hobson | 20th December, 2017

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas with predictions showing that British consumers are going to put Brexit uncertainty aside this Christmas and increase their spending over last year.

According to figures from VoucherCodes and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR). British families will spend an average £821.25 on gifts, food and drink and decorations, up 1.3 per cent on last year and 54 per cent more than the European average of £532.

Adults will spend an average £244 each on gifts, up 1.3 per cent on last year and 51.5 per cent more than the European average of £160.82. Online Christmas spending is expected to be 11.8 per cent up on last year, and is now the main driver of retail growth.

This comes with the positive news that the number of High Street shops closing down has fallen to its lowest level in seven years. In an analysis of 67,000 outlets in the UK, PwC and the Local Data Company (LDC) found that 2,342 opened on high streets, retail parks and shopping centres, while 2,564 closed – the equivalent of 14 closures per day. The overall volumes of activity – openings and closures – fell from a record 7,749 in the first half of 2010 to 4,906 in the first half of this year. The leisure sector (food, beverage and entertainment) thrived during the first half of the year, with 116 stores opening compared to 59 during the same time last year. Tobacconists, which saw a net change of +34, beauticians (+29) and coffee shops (+24) were among the fastest growing retailers during the first half of 2017, with ice cream parlours (+16) such as Ben & Jerry’s performing particularly well.

So does this mean a change in fortunes for the sector? Stephen Hobson, Business Recovery Partner at PKF Francis Clark said:

“It certainly would suggest a slightly more stable environment. It is looking like 2017 is on course to post the lowest level of administrations for more than a decade with retailers choosing specific closure stores very carefully aiming to capitalise on leases expiring in the ordinary course of their business.

“What has also developed is the way in which we shop with developments in technology accelerating and impacting future staffing and operating models. The UK is one of the World leaders for consumer online purchases. Many retailers are embracing that with offers of free delivery to local high street stores, which of course increases footfall and the opportunity for people to purchase more while they are visiting and collecting.”

It may yet be ho, ho, ho, for the High Street!

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