Some 10 million people went shopping yesterday, as bargain hunters began searching for the best Boxing Day deals.
Although online was a major contributor to the estimated £2.9bn spent by Brits on December 26, the high street was a huge draw for those consumers looking to snare knock-down products.
According to research company Springboard, footfall was up by more than a fifth on last year in the first three hours of trading yesterday. The Independent reported that Cambridge saw a 40% rise in shoppers hitting the streets, while in Northampton it increased by 50%. London’s West End is predicted to have attracted 800,000 people to the flagship shopping district, spending a total of £50m between them.
But the new director general of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson warned that retailers should not take too much comfort from the post-Christmas boom, predicting that 2013 would be an “ongoing endurance test”.
Dickinson argued that sales over the past year had been “hard fought and often driven by discounts, so cutting into margins” both online and in the high street. “As we look to the New Year, utility prices are likely to edge up inflation and people are keen to continue paying down their debt, which means the amount of money they have in their pockets will remain under pressure,” she added.
“2013 will be characterised by more of the same and there’s every sign that the ongoing endurance test for retailers of trading in a largely no-growth environment is likely to continue well into next year.”