Blog: Leonie BarrieFirst festive retail figures

Leonie Barrie | 7 January 2013

With the festivities out of the way, not surprisingly attention is now focusing on the first figures coming through for retailers during the holiday season.

Over in the US, there was a mixed bag of December sales results. Many firms were forced to discount heavily to drive sales in the weekend prior to Christmas, in the hope of making up for weaker demand earlier in the month. But it would seem that last-minute shopping, coupled with post-Christmas bargain hunting, helped propel sales at the end of the month.

Another headwind looming over US consumer spending has also been averted. An agreement hammered out at the eleventh hour managed to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff", a combination of tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts that had been due to come into effect from the beginning of January.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Christmas trading was "not exceptional" for UK retailers, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), with sales seen holding up with last year but driven by discounts. Looking ahead, 2013 is likely to be another tough year for retailers as austerity measures and uncertainty hit consumer confidence.

A stark reminder of the challenges comes in figures showing that the number of UK retailers collapsing into administration jumped 6% in 2012, including Peacocks, La Senza and JJB Sports. This could rise even further in the year ahead, according to business advisory firm Deloitte.

But some firms are making the most of opportunities to build their businesses. US clothing retailer Gap Inc has bought New York-based multi-brand women's wear retailer Intermix in a US$130m deal - its first acquisition since 2008.

And South Korean baby and children's wear retailer Suhyang Networks has been acquired by privately held Fung Retailing. The Hong Kong based firm says the acquisition is in line with plans to expand its portfolio of baby and children brands. It also intends to introduce international and European brands into Korea.


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