Park is boosted by a festive spree

Cautious consumers have loosened their belts a notch for the festive season this year, the Christmas savings group Park said yesterday.

The company, which sells vouchers that can be used in high street retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Argos and Iceland as well as traditional Christmas hampers, has seen orders rise 5 per cent on last year in the run-up to the big day. Average orders are up from £416 to £430 this year, while the number of customers has risen to 423,000 from 415,000.

Park, which is chaired by the former Everton football club owner and 30 per cent shareholder Peter Johnson, is traditionally loss-making in its first half. The stronger showing meant the group cut its losses from £4.4m to £4.1m in the six months to 30 September.