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Festive sales on a 'knife edge', says BRC

Published:  15 December, 2011

Festive sales are balanced on a knife edge, says the British Retail Consortium, as consumers leave their shopping late.

The last week of November saw sales up 15% on the same week last year, boosted by public sector strikes, said the BRC. But the following week, commencing December 5, struggled as sales dropped by -2.3% on the previous year.

Figures gathered by Springboard showed that the number of people visiting shopping centres on the day of public sector strikes was up by 40% compared to the same day last year.

Stephen Robertson, BRC director general, said: "Footfall should be on a rising trend as Christmas gets closer. This drop shows festive sales are still on a knife edge. The fact Christmas Day falls on a Sunday will mean some shoppers leaving purchases until the final Saturday, but with only one full week of trading to go before the holidays the final result is very much hanging in the balance."

Diane Wehrle, research director at Springboard, said: "These figures are an early indication that high streets are experiencing more challenging trading conditions than their shopping centre and out of town counterparts."

"What will be interesting to see is whether there is a revival in footfall to the high streets in the last two weeks before Christmas as consumers look for last-minute deals from retailers."

The spike in sales at the end of November compared to soft figures from 2010, when much of the UK was hit by heavy snowfalls.

The BRC-Springboard Retail Footfall Monitor records approximately 62 million footfall counts per week at over 500 different shopping locations throughout the UK.