Christmas retail sales could be best since 2007

SHOPPERS will spend more on the high street in the run up to Christmas than they have for at least three years, a report has claimed.

Retail analysts Verdict Research said high street sales were likely to increase by £1.6bn in the three months to Christmas, a 1.9 per cent rise on last year, to £85.2bn.

But it warned some of this had already been “priced in” as a result of the rise in VAT since last year, from 15 per cent to 17.5 per cent, and inflation, which currently stands at 3.1 per cent, leading prices higher in certain retail sectors already.

Online sales were likely to take the lion’s share of the increase accounting for a predicted £1.2bn of sales, it said. Online will account for 9.5 per cent of all sales at £8.1bn rising by 17.6 per cent overall.

The forecast suggested people will spend more on clothing, food and health and beauty products rather than big ticket items such as televisions and other electrical goods, which usually rely on Christmas to boost sales but where competition was already pushing prices lower.

The new iPad, along with video games and accessories, will continue to sell well in the run up to Christmas but at the expense of smartphones, iPods and digital cameras, the report said.

The DIY sector would also suffer as a weak housing market would hurt sales of furniture and floor covers, Verdict added.