Lonely Christmas for traditional retail as web dominates

BRITAIN’S bricks-and-mortar retailers have had another disappointing Christmas, with in-store sales failing to match inflation and online spending making up more than half of seasonal boost in spending.

Compared to 2012’s Christmas period, consumption only rose by 1.2 per cent in physical retail stores, Barclaycard revealed this weekend. Despite a slight improvement, the increase was below consumer price inflation of around 2.1 per cent.

In comparison, spending on the internet rose by 9.8 per cent between the beginning of November and 27 December, against the same period last year.

“While consumers spent more this Christmas than last, demonstrating that their confidence is up, they were determined to get the best deal – waiting for the big discount days and using the web to compare prices,” added a spokesman.

Barclaycard said that spending rose by 2.9 per cent in total.

Other researchers actually recorded a decline for in-store retail sales during December. BDO’s monthly review, released today, suggested that spending on physical premises dropped by 2.2 per cent.

At the same time, it found that online and other non-store sales rose by an incredible 55.7 per cent during the last week of the month.

“January is a cruel month for the high street as retailers are usually sitting on high cash holdings and low stock levels so they are particularly exposed at this time of year,” added BDO’s Don Williams, suggesting struggling stores’ troubles might not be over.

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