Your Reflect - 15th December 2016

Published: 15th December 2016 10:14
Author: Chris Workman © JDA & GA 2016-2019

Seasonal spending habits

Research from Experian has lifted the lid on the seasonal spending habits of people across the UK. If you have a gift shop in Coventry you may be feeling pretty smug as the city’s shoppers have been named the biggest buyers, with each resident purchasing presents for an average 11 people – more than anyone else in the country.

And, staying in the Midlands, the people of Leicester are most likely to enjoy a merry Yuletide, with two-thirds saying they get “a lot of enjoyment” out of Christmas and spending a whopping average £60 on festive lights, nearly double the national average of £32.

Experian polled more than 4,000 UK residents to create an interactive map of the country’s biggest Christmas spenders and Scrooges.

People in Wakefield should be the best-prepared for the big day, with almost one in 10 saying they do the majority of their Christmas shopping seven to 12 months in advance, whereas those in the capital leave it the latest and are top for putting Christmas on some form of credit.

Shoppers in Northern Ireland are best at keeping control of their costs, with over a fifth saying they stick unfailingly to their budget and never overspend, while people in the North-West of England are the most likely to throw caution to the wind.

On Monday, Parliament debated an e-petition calling for the closure of all retail on Boxing Day. The government doesn’t believe that it should tell businesses how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers – and the British Retail Consortium agrees, saying that individual retailers will make their own decisions about this based on shoppers’ needs and preferences.

I’m inclined to share those views. Boxing Day has long been a popular time for people to hit the Christmas sales. And, as the BRC says, most retailers offer flexible shift patterns to ensure time off for those who don’t wish to work throughout the holiday period.

A change seems unlikely.

Keeping store staff happy

On the subject of keeping people happy, anonymous staff feedback from UK companies with more than 1,000 employees saw Screwfix emerge as the top retailer in the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards to find the best places to work.

It came in at number nine, well ahead of the next best retailers, Harrods (29th), and John Lewis, placed 33rd after suffering a drop of 17 places. Lush was 46th, while the top supermarkets were Waitrose, down from 25th to 36th, and Sainsbury’s (45th). The overall winner was Expedia.

Great British High Street winners

Congratulations to them and to those who triumphed in the competition to find the Great British High Street of the Year 2016.

The overall winner was Blackburn, which “wowed the judges” with a range of improvements. It also won the Town Centre category.

Other winners were Derby (City), Bridgnorth (Large Market Town), Hebden Bridge (Small Market Town & People’s Choice Award), Falmouth (Coastal Community), Hoole (Local Centre/Parade of Shops), Pateley Bridge (Village), Stockton (Rising Star), and Myddleton Road, Haringey (London).

A Saturday success

Great news: around £717 million was spent with small firms across the UK on Small Business Saturday earlier this month, according to figures from American Express. That’s 15% up on last year and £249m more than in 2013 when the event first took place.

The card company questioned over 3,600 adults across the land to gauge their spending habits on Small Business Saturday this year and more than half of those aware of SBS said they spent more than usual. A big ‘well done’ if you took part and reaped the benefit.

Footfall improves - for some

Black Friday was the key feature of last month. Not only was it the busiest trading day, but footfall also rose by 2% (compared with Black Friday last year) as online purchases increased by 6.7% against a forecast rise of 25%. So “while consumers shopped and researched discounts online, they also visited bricks and mortar stores”.

Diane Wehrle of Springboard adds that the concerning ongoing trend is a further decline of 2.3% in footfall to shopping centres. “Some of this reduction is inevitable, as malls are dominated by retailers that trade equally effectively online, leading to a shift away from the need for frequent functional visits, to longer, leisure-driven trips that are undertaken less often.”

Meanwhile, clothing and fuel prices helped to drive up the UK’s Consumer Prices Index inflation rate to 1.2% in November from 0.9% in October, the highest since October 2014.

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