Retailers face 2013 gloom as Britons prepare to save

Pressures set to grow and drive high-street stores to close their doors for the last time

Retailers are being warned to brace themselves for a tough 2013 after the first shoppers' confidence figures since the crucial Christmas trading period revealed almost two-thirds of Britons plan to cut spending over the next six months.

Shares in retail stocks tumbled after retail analysis from Conlumino showed that 59 per cent of consumers intend to spend less at Britain's shops over the next six months, with only 2.6 per cent planning to boost spending in 2013.

In response, Marks and Spencer shares were down 3.4p, to 382.3p; J Sainsbury fell 1.9p to 345.1p; N Brown, the catalogue retail giant whose brands include lingerie-seller Figleaves, was off 6.5p to 369.8p. Meanwhile Britain's biggest retailer, Tesco – which issued its first profit warning in more than two decades last January after a poor festive trading period in 2011 – lost 0.2 per cent to 336.6p. Its shares tumbled 14 per cent last year, down from 390p at the start of last January.

The retail sector's fallers crossed the shopping spectrum, including homeware brands such as Carpetright, down 5p to 680p, and Next, down 4.4p at 3703.6p. Next has an established online business, but figures from credit-checking group Experian showed that although Christmas Eve and Christmas Day saw year-on-year increases of 86 per cent and 71 per cent respectively in visits to online retailers, this fell to only 17 per cent on Boxing Day.

Despite some retailers claiming record takings over the festive sales period, the British Retail Consortium is warning this year will be an "ongoing endurance test" for retailers. It is campaigning for the Chancellor George Osborne to halt April's planned increase in business rates, which will hit shop-owners with a £175m bill.

"With the economy bumping along the bottom in the New Year, real incomes still under pressure and consumer confidence low, retail sales can be expected to remain in the doldrums," warned Clive Black, retail analyst at Shore Capital. "With the internet continuing also to gain share, the plight of the high street, the secondary and tertiary towns and retail parks in particular is especially challenging.

"Most retailers, especially supermarkets and the rag-trade, will be praying for a good spring/summer of weather after three grim years, which could help matters – with no Jubilee or Olympics to come. However, grinding out is expected to be the theme. Many small high-street retailers will, sadly, close their doors for the last time through the year."

The proportion of vacant shops in town centres is presently at a record 11.3 per cent, thanks in part to high-profile retail failures including video-games retailer Game, greeting-cards group Clinton Cards, sportswear chain JJB Sports and outdoor-goods group Blacks Leisure. Though each re-emerged in some form, hundreds of stores were closed.

Neil Saunders, managing director of Conlumino, added: "January is when consumers really start to take stock and that's when we expect the realities of a Christmas on credit to start to have an impact on confidence. The outlook for the start of the year does not look too rosy.

"In terms of sales performance, 2012 will probably end on a bit of a high but retailers should be under no illusions that the consumer remains under significant pressure and most households intend to cut spending as they go into the New Year. As such, reports of a bumper sales period should not be taken as the beginning of the end of the consumer downturn."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own