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Official: Christmas isn't cancelled

1 Dec 08

Christmas may not be quite the spending explosion that the store chains dream of, but Deloitte’s seasonal survey ?nds that many people plan to spend at last year’s levels, the firm’s Jim Boyle and Tarlok Teji report

In spite of the economic turmoil, 57 per cent of UK consumers say they intend to spend the same this Christmas as they did last year, according to our firm’s Christmas retail survey.

The talk of Christmas being cancelled is overplayed. Only 24 per cent of respondents said they will spend less and 19 per cent say they will spend more. For many people in the UK, this year will be Christmas as usual.

On average, consumers are planning to spend £655 on gifts, socialising and food and drink this year, 7 per cent less than last year which, taken with the 7 per cent growth the year before, could be interpreted as a 14 per cent drop in confidence.

Scotland

Scotland’s consumers have dropped from their position as the highest spenders in the UK this Christmas after two years. They are expecting to spend an average of £709 on gifts, food and drink and socialising, down 16 per cent on last year’s £848 but still 8 per cent higher than the national average and second only to Greater London, on £723, in terms of planned spend.

Total planned spend for the Christmas period in Scotland is:

• Food and drink £690m

• Gifts £1.7bn

• Socialising £576m

Compared with the rest of the UK, Scotland has seen the biggest decline in terms of how much consumers expect to spend on food and drinks and gifts, falling by

19 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. However, they still expect to spend 13 per cent more on gifts than the national average.

The planned spend on socialising is also down by 7 per cent compared to 2007 but remains 9 per cent above the UK figure.

There is no doubt that falling house prices and rising food, energy and transport costs, plus increasing fears about jobs, have impacted on consumer spending for much of 2008.

The recession will mean that for the first time in 15 years, retailers will face consumers who are increasingly price sensitive.

That’s ‘in-tertainment’

It is socialising where the biggest consumer cutbacks are planned. Respondents to the survey say they plan to spend an average of £126 on socialising this year,12 per cent less than last year.

It’s all about “in-tertainment” – staying in will be the new going out. This is good news for the grocery sector as people may spend more to entertain at home.

16-24 year olds offer glimmer of hope

 

One segment of the population is bucking the trend – 36 per cent of 16-24 year olds intend to spend more and 49 per cent say they are going to have a good time at Christmas and worry about the cost later, compared with 23 per cent of 25-55+ year olds. They are also the most optimistic about the economy.

Supermarket sweep

Supermarkets look good for Christmas shopping to 66 per cent of consumers, compared with 52 per cent last year.

Market share for Christmas food is expected to fall for farmers’ markets (16 per cent to 13 per cent) and luxury stores (6 per cent to 4 per cent). Supermarkets rise from 77 per cent to 79 per cent and 27 per cent of people plan to buy more supermarket own-label and value brands.

Happy new year?

The survey found that 83 per cent of retailers and 64 per cent of consumers believe economic conditions in the UK will deteriorate in 2009.

TARLOK TEJI is head of retail with Deloitte. JIM BOYLE is retail partner for Deloitte in Scotland.

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