Blog: Leonie BarrieHoliday spending…or not?

Leonie Barrie | 18 November 2005

Retailers on both sides of the Atlantic who have been hoping for a bumper Christmas look set to be disappointed – or will need to be very, very good this year to encourage shoppers to outspend last year. The latest figures from the UK’s Office for National Statistics also show that spending remains subdued, despite heavy discounts, and that the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having over here has done little to shift the winter stocks of coats and scarves. It’s a similar story in the US, where retailers Limited Brands and Gap have both reported sluggish third quarter results amid higher energy prices and merchandising problems.

According to a new survey from WSL Strategic Retail, 53 per cent of US consumers say they will be spending less on clothing this holiday season. But with shoppers surrounded by uncertainty such as war, terrorists, acts of God striking randomly, plus oil companies putting a tight squeeze on wallets, isn’t there a slim chance that they’ll throw caution to the wind and start to spend in an attempt to cheer themselves up?

Not so, says the ‘How America Shops’ report. Apparently retailers themselves are to blame by failing to deliver the ‘good old-fashioned holiday season’ experience. “Retailers, in their rush to capture the first holiday spending dollars, have diluted the emotional appeal of the season. December was once the most festive shopping month of the year. Now it arrives with a trickle of products onto the floor in October followed by pre-holiday sales in November. Gone is that wonderful feeling of stores transformed overnight with lights, snowflakes and Santa Claus in his chair.”

And not only have retailer failed on this front, but they are also feeding into consumers’ fear of overspending by hyping up the sales and discounts that are just around the corner. All of which contrives to take the ‘Happy’ out of Happy Christmas for both sides of the retail divide.

UK: Retailers Suffer As Sales Fail To Pick Up


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