Shoppers will spend more this Christmas than last despite the financial crisis – but the extra spend will be driven by the higher cost of food.
That is the prediction of Verdict Research, which says that faced with a more expensive Christmas feast, consumers will be selective with food shopping and careful with their gift purchasing, buying fewer items of both.
This means that retailers will have to fight much harder for a share of the Christmas spend.
Verdict forecast that UK consumers will spend £82.3bn with retailers in the final quarter of 2008 or £1,363 per head. Though this is a 2% increase on 2007, it is the second lowest growth rate in 20 years and the extra that shoppers will be spending will be more than eaten up by food inflation.
For non-food retailers life is going to be particularly tough, says Verdict. Unless they can stand out from the crowd with a compelling offer they will be passed over.
Home-related specialists will be the biggest losers, with sales of DIY, furniture and floorcoverings falling into negative sales despite inflation.
Verdict also predicts that the first three months of 2009 will be particularly tough for all retailers.