Tills 'will ring up Christmas record'

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The Independent Online
HIGH-STREET TILLS are set to ring up record profits this year despite the doom and gloom threatening to engulf the retail sector, a survey claims today.

A "poll of polls" produced by insurance group CGU predicts that shoppers will embark on a massive shopping spree in the run-up to Christmas, spending pounds 3.3bn more than in December 1998. The poll says the surge will be fuelled by millennium fever, growth in disposable incomes and changes in tax payments.

The index, compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, is based on the results of the Mori consumer confidence index, the Consumers' Association's consumer trends survey, the CBI distributive trades survey and John Lewis's weekly sales reports.

The survey shows a jump in consumer confidence in December and a 6.5 per cent rise in disposable incomes in the fourth quarter compared with the same period last year.

The strength of consumer spending has been largely financed by a collapse in savings, the survey says. In the first half of this year, gross savings were down 14 per cent on the same period in 1998. But the second half and the December month indicate a fall in gross savings of just 4.6 per cent.

The survey cautioned that some consumers could be caught out this Christmas with cautious ordering by retailers meaning that some goods could be out of stock.