January sales expected to rake in record pounds 6.4bn

The January sales are likely to be the biggest ever, according to a forecast published as the traditional bargain-hunting got under way in earnest yesterday.

Retail turnover was likely to climb more than 10 per cent compared to its January 1996 level, the Centre for Economic and Business Research predicted. This would take non-food sales to pounds 6.4bn next month, a record for a January.

The early indications on the high streets yesterday suggested that hopes of a bumper sales season were well-founded. Shopping centres and department stores reported that shoppers were out in greater numbers despite the snow.

Wilf Geldart, marketing manager of Sheffield's Meadowhall shopping centre, said there were queues at the doors before it opened. "There's definitely more confidence around this year and the sales have been heavily advertised," he said.

About 140,000 people were expected yesterday at the Tyneside MetroCentre. The 10-year-old complex's previous record was broken on Monday when 158,000 poured through the doors. This included 70,000 people travelling from Norway and a record number from Iceland, who spent an average of pounds 1,500 per head.

The National Westminster bank said that a massive pounds 72.5m was withdrawn from its cash machines on Christmas Eve, a third up on last year's record day. It processed 2.7 million credit and debit card authorisations as well, two-fifths up on last year's seasonal peak.

Between 1 and 24 December pounds 855m was withdrawn from NatWest - up 11.4 per cent on the same period last year. On Christmas Day more than pounds 5m was withdrawn, double the amount taken out last year.

The CEBR, an economics consultancy, said rising incomes, higher bonuses and a fall in the number of redundancies meant sales growth in the year to January would return to a nine-year high. "People have both the means and the confidence to spend," said Mark Pragnell, author of the report. He predicted that the momentum of consumer spending would continue beyond January.

The report also predicted that price discounts in the sales would be lower than in previous years because unwanted stock levels were low.

"Although pre-Christmas sales have not been the runaway success some predicted, it is likely that stores will have lower levels of unsold stock in January 1997 than in January 1996 or 1995," said Mr Pragnell. The report puts next month's average price fall at 1.2 per cent outside the food sector.

However, the report points out that the psychology of the late 1980s is still remote. There were four years of consecutive rapid growth in sales in the late 1980s, whereas this year will bring the first substantial gains in high street spending for seven years.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific