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Shopping for Christmas
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Shopping for Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017: Here are our figures for Christmas Trading in 2017.

This is how Christmas 2017 went. The Centre for Retail Research 2017 forecast was sponsored by RetaIlMeNot,, Ma in France and Poulpeo.

shoppingforxmasgraph6 (120K)

As we predicted, Christmas 2017 was better than expected, although retail sales grew by only 1.4% against 2016. Food retailers generally did well, but non-food made little progress as heavy discounting on Black Friday and the weeks before Christmas. The best results were seen by online retailers, discounters, upmarket companies prepared to cut their prices and electricals and IT. The main losers were clothing and footwear, department stores, furniture and furnishings. Even John Lewis, one of the winders with an excellent season (but which lost profits because of its price-matching policies) warned that 2018 was going to be a difficult period. There was so much discounting that by the time that Boxing Day dawned, shoppers showed 'discount fatigue' and the main growth of sales was online.

UK retail sales 2004 - 2017

Forecast Christmas Sales

There are several main features of Christmas Shopping as we see it:

1. Christmas Spending Continues to Rise in Spite of the Gloom (but perhaps by not so much)

Christmas Sales 2016 and 2017

Christmas Sales 2016 and 2017

(these figures relate to total spending in the six weeks from mid-November to the end of December 2017)

Shop with xmas lights

2. To everybody's amazement, Black Friday continues to blossom but becomes more and more an online phenomenon

Black Friday Sales 2017
Black Friday weekend sales continue to expand, with more and more retailers involved, although it is becoming particularly an online phenomenon.
However this year more voices have been raised saying that Black Friday is collective suicide for the industry.

Black Friday Weekend 2017: Online(all figures in £millions)

M&S christmas window display

3. What was once the 'Golden Quarter' has become a Discounter's Paradise

Compared to several previous Christmases, there was an unexpected dearth of shoppers in the main cities on many days, whilst the smaller retail centres looked like ghost towns. All that was missing was tumbleweed blowing through the streets. This is part of a trend by shoppers, but is accentuated by periods after retailers have reduced prices, when shoppers see no need to go shopping if they might get things cheaper the following week. Thus there can be games of 'dare' between shops and shoppers, trying to find out who will break first. Ten years ago, reducing prices before Christmas was seen as evidence of a retailer in trouble: these days everyone does it.

4. Traditional Physical Retailers Lose Out to Online Retailers

We estimated that sales in physical stores in the UK fell by 2.5% this year in the UK, continuing a pattern seen since the recession of 2008. Our estimates of the actual growth of online retailing will be provided later. Bricks and mortar stores in other countries were also affected by online growth but not to the same extent.

5. This Christmas was Increasingly Mobile as shoppers switched to ordering goods online or reserving goods in store using their smartphones and tablets. In the UK mobile ordering rose to 49.7% of all online retail spending, compared to 42.3% last year, although the German proportion was even higher at 50.2%

percentage of online sales

6. . Christmas spending on gifts continued to rise. In the UK, average spending per household on Christmas gifts rose from £240.41 to £243.77 this year

Spending Per Person On Christmas Gifts in 2017

Christmas shopping

Christmas shopping scenes

This study covered shoppers and retailers in the UK, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy Spain, Belgium, Canada and the U.S.. Interviews were carried out by 1000 shoppers in the major countries and with 50+ large retailers in each country (collectively representing 20%+ of national retail sales).

Previous Reports