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Christmas at least as good as last year, retailers believe

Most retailers expect Christmas trading to be at least as good as last year’s and said that shoppers had brought forward purchases to avoid the January VAT rise.

Some 29% of retailers polled for the British Retail Consortium’s Christmas Trading Snapsot Survey anticipated turnover at Christmas would be the same as last year and 35% expected it to be better. Some 36% feared trading would be worse than last year.

The survey also showed that 41% of retailers were running more promotions and discounts than last year. It is thought that many retailers will run previously unplanned promotions this week to offset sales lost during the snowy weather.

71% of retailers questioned also thought that the looming VAT increase to 20% on January 4 had prompted shoppers to bring forward purchases and 80% believed the rise would have a negative impact on January sales.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson was reassured that most retailers thought this Christmas would be no worse than last but cautioned: “Considering inflation is now at 3.2%, growth of anything less than that would be a real-terms fall.”

He warned: “Ultimately December could be the ninth month in a row of weak year-on-year growth.”

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