Retailers are bracing for a quieter Boxing Day this year, despite freedom from pandemic restrictions, as the cost of living crisis weighs on shoppers’ budgets.
Spending is expected to reach almost £3.8 billion on December 26, according to research by GlobalData on Vouchercodes.
This is down almost 4% on last year, which was already difficult for retailers due to fears of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which prevented some people from hitting the high street and led to restrictions on store openings in some areas.
This income figure shows a large drop in the volume of items purchased, given that inflation is running at more than 10%, so shoppers will spend more on purchases. More than a third of this year’s Boxing Day bargain hunting is expected to take place online, with £1.25bn to be spent.
Adding to the traditional post-Christmas shopping spree is the fact that many major chains – including Aldi, Iceland, John Lewis, Pets at Home, Poundland and Beaverbrooks – will close on Boxing Day. Many are continuing a tradition started in the pandemic, and in some cases earlier, of rewarding hard-working staff with a day off after the busy holiday shopping season.
Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland Foods, said: “This year has taken its toll on everyone, so officially closing our doors on Boxing Day is just a small token of appreciation for our employees.
“As we move into the winter months, the burden of the cost of living will unfortunately only intensify, and while we work tirelessly to pass savings and support on to our customers, we must also look after our teams on the frontline of this crisis every day. throughout the United Kingdom.”
The expected drop in Boxing Day trade compared to last year continues a long decline in the popularity of the annual shopping tradition, as November’s US-inspired Black Friday discount day grows and the move to early sales of the end of the year before Christmas Day have been combined. to steal her thunder.
This year, a total of £1.08 billion is expected to be spent online on Christmas Day, for example, when not long ago almost nothing was bought after shops closed, although this is also a 4% drop in 2021.
As Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year, there will be an extra bank holiday when the shops are open – Tuesday 27 December – meaning the bargain hunt could be spread over more days, making it more diluted. beyond the importance of taking the 26th of December.
“The combination of Black Friday and the sheer amount of discounting we’ve had across the industry has driven a lot of those potential Boxing Day sales,” said Richard Lim, an analyst at Retail Economics.
However, Lim added that for bargain hunters, retailers are likely to discount heavily in an attempt to clear stock that was ordered earlier in the year when “conditions looked much better”.
“The Boxing Day and January [price cuts] it will be deeper and much more widespread than normal because retailers will be desperate to stash cash and shore up balance sheets as we head into a tough recession in 2023.
He suggested there was a chance stores could be busier than expected due to a combination of deep discounting and pent-up demand caused by a mix of strikes and snow ahead of Christmas.
However, the expected tricky start to post-Christmas sales will pile more pressure on retailers already suffering from a weak winter hit by transport and postal strikes, snow and rising energy and food bills, which have limited spare cash for spending on gifts and presents. .
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