Tales from the Christmas sales
Christmas is the peak period for the retail sector and, after a difficult year with closure after closure, much hope has been pinned on rising consumer confidence and a sales surge. Whilst it is early days to produce figures on how the festive season has fared, there are reports coming in from the retail sector.
Many retailers slashed prices before Christmas in an attempt to lure shoppers and, while the strategy may have prized purses open, expert predictions are that profits will slump. It is suggested that Marks & Spencer, which launched an unprecedented pre-Christmas sale, could be heading for its worst profit figures in five years.
The tills might well be ringing in the post-Christmas sales but, again, margins will be sorely squeezed by the levels of price cuts and shoppers motives may not be all they seem. Analysts suggest that, while spending may be high now, it may in part be driven by shoppers bulk buying in order to resell online, undercutting post sales shop prices. One shopping centre owner reported that customers were bulk-buying party dresses, T-shirts, beauty products and perfume, all relatively high-value items which could be stored easily for future sale.
Finally, it is reported that more than 3 million tablet computers have been sold over the Christmas period, indicating a strong move towards on-the-go digital media consumption. The surge in sales left hundreds of shops out of stock, including warehouse retailer Argos, which had sold out of the 16GB Kindle Fire HD tablet priced at £119.99 by 27 December.