Christmas gloom hits high street

Retailers slash investment in anticipation of poor Christmas sales in the shops.

By News Desk
28th November 2008 at 12:55

Christmas retail sales 2008 - gloom on the high streetWith big retail names like Woolworths and MFI going into administration, it’s unsurprising that the latest survey of high street retailers holds out a gloomy picture for Christmas sales.

The Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) Distributive Trades Survey released today shows that 62% of retailers said their sales for the first half of November were lower than a year ago, against just 14% who said they were higher.

The outlook for the crucial month of December is similar.

As a result a net balance of 57% of retailers say that they will slash investment over the coming months, the largest percentage since the survey was established in 1983.

Andy Clarke, retail director at ASDA, said:

Christmas is going to be extremely tough this year, with retailers having to work harder than ever to keep the tills ringing.

The added pressure of changing millions of prices, to reflect the cut in VAT, will be an unwelcome and costly burden.

It’s clear that retailers are going to have a tough festive period and despite the government’s VAT cut, it’s not at all clear that consumers are going to be flocking to the high street.

By contrast, it will be interesting to watch online sales figures for the period as they come in.

[Photo credit: zoonabar licenced from Flickr]

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