High street retailer confidence rises ahead of Christmas

Kasmira Jefford
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Nearly 80 per cent of retailers expect revenues to increase this Christmas (Source: Getty)

High street retailers are feeling more confident about Christmas this year, with the majority predicting a rise in revenues according to research from Barclays, despite warnings from retailers including SuperGroup and Marks & Spencer of challenges ahead.

Barclays said 79 per cent of retailers surveyed expect revenues to increase over the Christmas period compared to 72 per cent last year, with 14 per cent predicting their revenue will rise by more than 10 per cent.

Asked about their involvement in Black Friday this year, 77 per cent of retailers said they plan to hold some sort of promotion, up from 73 per cent last year, with 69 per cent expecting sales to rise compared to last year’s sales bonanza, Only four per cent expect to suffer a fall in sales.

Smartphones are expected to be the biggest driver of growth, with shops on average predicting a 52 per cent jump on mobile sales compared to last year. The number of click and collect orders are also expected to surge by a quarter.

Barclays head of retail and wholesale, Ian Gilmartin, said: “The overwhelming confidence around prospects for the whole Christmas season is great to see.

“When Black Friday first came to the UK, the industry speculated about whether it was just a fad or would really take hold. This research shows that it appears to be here to stay, as for the first time, more than three quarters of retailers plan to hold a promotion. As long as retailers focus on selected lines and manage the level of discounting appropriately, this increased participation can contribute to a successful Christmas season.”

Barclays’ upbeat survey comes after less positive statements from SuperGroup boss Euan Sutherland today, saying that last year’s strong figures would be hard to beat. Meanwhile Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland yesterday warning that the market was likely to be “spikey and difficult” in terms of promotions in the run-up to Christmas.

Mild weather during the autumn of last year forced several retailers to start discounting on winter products much earlier than planned last year, with Bolland pointing out that one major player on the high street went on sale as much as two weeks before Christmas. However strong retail sales growth in September, the colder weather, and a more sophisticated Black Friday after learning from last year's logistics mistakes could bode well for retailers this year.

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