Retail sales this December are set to rise by 4% year-on-year to £42.8bn, equating to an additional £1.6bn, benefitting from the fact that Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year.
Research from business advisory firm Deloitte suggests that online sales will grow by more than a fifth (21%) from last year, and the total is expected to exceed £7bn for the first time.
Online sales will account for three-quarters of total retail sales growth year on year.
Last-minute shoppers are expected to be out in force on Saturday 24 December, Christmas Eve, for the final full day of shopping, while Boxing Day falling on a Monday means a full day of trading that could provide a further boost.
“Events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have dragged forward consumers’ Christmas spending into the end of November,” said Deloitte head of retail Ian Geddes. “However, there are a number of other factors present that will give a boost to retail sales over the festive period. Christmas on a Sunday will maximise the opportunity for consumers to grab a bargain in the Sales that follow.”
He suggested that the weak value of sterling means consumers are more likely to stay in the UK during the Christmas break, while tourists’ buying power is greater.
However, he warned that consumer confidence will be tested in 2017 by macroeconomic uncertainty and inflationary pressures.
“Never will it be more important for retailers to focus on accelerating productivity and profitability,” he added.