Retail fears persist despite boom

 

The beleaguered retail sector was today set to continue
enjoying a post-Christmas shopping boom but experts warned it may not be
enough to ensure some weaker players survive.

Retail analysts Experian said the number of people visiting shops on Boxing Day was 21.5% higher than a year ago as stores put on unprecedented numbers of discounts to drum up trade.

Shopper footfall was expected to rise further today, it added, as some chains that were not open on Boxing Day, such as department store John Lewis, resumed trading and others launched sales.

But fears persist that some of the biggest names on the high street are in danger of collapsing in coming days.

The sector has suffered a bleak year in which the squeeze in consumer spending was compounded by the rise in VAT to 20% and the warm autumn weather, which hit sales of winter clothing.

As a result, retailers have put on a frenzy of promotions in the run-up to Christmas and many are now dropping prices further.

Industry insiders say that despite reports of encouraging recent trading, some big-name players may not make it through the next few weeks, with many now due to pay their rent bills for the next quarter.

Anita Manan, an analyst at Experian, said: "It's good to see so many people visiting stores and the milder weather has helped.

"With the quarterly rent due, the difficulty is that they are selling a lot of stock at very low prices.

"What remains to be seen is if this quarter's takings are enough to see them through this difficult period to the next quarter."

High street lingerie chain La Senza, which has 146 stores and 18 concessions in the UK, announced last week that it plans to enter administration in coming days.

And Blacks Leisure, which owns 98 Blacks outlets and 208 Millets stores, has fuelled speculation that it would go into administration in a move that would allow rivals to cherry-pick its best assets.

The outdoor clothing group, which employs 3,600 staff, put itself up for sale following dire trading. But it signalled a so-called pre-pack deal was on the cards as it said it did not expect an offer for the group's shares, only for its trade, assets and brands.

However, many stores and shopping centres have reported strong trading in the post-Christmas sales.

Upmarket department store Selfridges said it had enjoyed record sales in the first hour of Boxing Day despite a Tube strike in London.

And queues were yesterday reported to have formed outside several Next stores after the fashion chain opened at 6am and offered all items at half price or less.

Kent's Bluewater shopping centre expects nearly a million visitors this week amid strong demand for as luxury items, such as premium-branded handbags and accessories, young fashion ranges, electricals and other big-ticket items.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
News
people
Sport
football
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all