David Prosser: High streets feel the chill

Outlook: Many shoppers may simply decide not to make some of the purchases they had been planning
Click to follow
The Independent Online

For retailers, dreams of a white Christmas are more like nightmares, especially this year. Despite their protestations – and leaving aside one or two notable exceptions – the truth is that many high street stores still do not know whether this festive season will prove to be a lucrative one.

As in previous years, Britons seem to have left it late to do their shopping, hoping retailers would be panicked into price cuts, but the high street had been expecting the weekend just gone to be a bumper one. As it turned out, says retail analyst Experian, footfall in shops was around 7 per cent down on the same weekend last year.

The weather will have played its part in that disappointment, with shoppers reluctant to brave the snow. In London, meanwhile, the Eurostar's cold weather crisis will have had a small but significant effect on sales after several buoyant months in which European tourists have taken advantage of the weak pound.

The problem for retailers now is that many shoppers may simply decide not to make some of the purchases they had been planning. And if the cold weather persists after Christmas, retailers will suffer further. Remember, the VAT rate goes back up to 17.5 per cent on New Year's Day.

Comments