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Drapers Debate: Will Christmas be the present the high street is waiting for?

After a year of muted sales, Drapers asks if retailers can look forward to bumper sales this Christmas.

Victoria Gallagher

No - Victoria Gallagher

The festive period should certainly not signal a time for retailers to rest on their laurels and expect shoppers to just come flooding in. With so much stiff competition retailers must work harder than ever to pull shoppers in.

If stores want consumers to come and buy presents for their loved ones then retailers have got to be savvy and offer their customers something that they can’t find anywhere else.

Retailers need to give shoppers a reason to come to them specifically, whether it be high quality products at prices that can justifiably remain without discount as Christmas draws closer, low prices that won’t be beaten elsewhere or even act as a one stop shop so customers needn’t go anywhere else.

Discounting will once again be key and I urge retailers to reconsider aggressive price slashing, which can devalue the prices of Christmas gifts. When shopping for presents, customers do not want to buy a gift to find the price halved the following week. Retailers need to earn the trust of the shopper so they can believe that the product is being sold at the price it is worth. If this does not happen then we’ll see festive shoppers holding off until the last minute in the hope of a late bargain.

It has been seen time and time again that shoppers are searching for discounts and when having to buy piles of presents they will surely be looking to spend the least amount of money possible. Far from being the long awaited boon - after a fallow 2012 - this festive period could be one of the toughest the high street has ever had to face.

Ruth_Faulkner_for_web

Yes - Ruth Faulkner

While there can be no doubt that pressures on consumer spending still remain, both indie and multiple retailers are far more positive about the outlook for this Christmas than they were at this time last year.

There can be no disputing that 2012 has been a good year for Britain in terms of lifting the spirits of the nation and although times have been tough in the retail world, the strong start to autumn trading appears to be spreading festive cheer.

Retailers as varied as Hobbs, Debenhams and Sainsbury’s are reporting decent growth, and indies too have said that sales in their stores are better than last year.

Let’s also not forget every retailer’s favourite topic of the great British weather. Pre-Christmas last year was unseasonably warm meaning consumers failed to buy winter product in any real numbers.

Retailers were left with a surfeit of thick jumpers, coats and boots that they were then forced to discount, often before their usual Christmas Sale period.

This year the temperature has been colder, leading those who didn’t invest in key winter items last year to make their purchases now. This trend is likely to continue towards Christmas as the temperatures drop further.

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