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November 05 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

Retailers kickstart Christmas countdown

Christmas promotions

Retailers are getting into festive mode as they announce their Christmas promotions.

Hallowe’en is out of the way and as soon as they’ve taken down the cobwebs and plastic ghouls from their windows, retailers are getting in the Christmas spirit. We’ve all heard shoppers complain that Christmas comes earlier every year, but that doesn’t stop consumers from flocking to the shops – or, increasingly, getting online – to pick up their festive treats. Retailers are fully in festive mode, and they’re hoping for a bumper Christmas.

Bright prospects

Overall, retailers seem positive about the outlook for this festive season. A survey of multi-channel retailers from Barclays Retail and Wholesale found that seven out of ten were feeling more confident about this year’s Christmas trading than last year, up substantially from the 52 per cent that said the same in 2013. It also included 28 per cent who went as far as saying they were “far more confident”.

Some 72 per cent said they expected revenues to be higher this year than 2013, and a fifth predicted they would see sales rise by ten per cent or more, which could well mean that burgeoning consumer confidence is set to seep into their Christmas shopping habits.

In fact, 12 per cent anticipated shoppers being more likely to purchase a few expensive luxury gifts, and the proportion who said that fun and frivolous gifts will be more popular this year rose to 37 per cent. In contrast, practical gifts – which often reflect people’s inability to buy them for themselves – are set to become less common. The percentage firms who saw this as the most popular type of gift fell from 69 to 51 per cent.

Marketing campaigns

As a result, this Christmas is clearly expected to be an exciting one for retailers. Many have already got their promotional campaignsunderway, after setting out some of their product ranges as early as the summer.

For example, there’s now a huge Christmas tree in London’s Leadenhall Market, while luxury brand Fortnum and Mason has already unveiled its special seasonal window display.

What’s more, after last year’s John Lewis advert debuted in full over the space of an entire advert break in the middle of the X Factor, the firm has announced that this year’s clip will be released this week. And sister company Waitrose looks to be going into competition with the retailer, as the high-end supermarket is asking for community choirs and amateur singers to participate in itscharity Christmas single.

Festive cheer

A successful Christmas can make a big different to a retailer’s annual performance – and vitally it can make up for difficult trading conditions during the year. Given that the last retail sales monitor from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG found retail sales were down 2.1 per cent like-for-like in September compared to the previous year, there is some catching up to do.

Yet confidence is picking up in the UK, and it certainly looks as though the retail landscape is going to improve in the next few years. This Christmas could be the start of a bright period for UK retail.

Thiago Kiwi

Thiago is the LSBF Blog Editor who manages news and features content on the site, and writes about business, finance, technology, education and careers.

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