Market Overview

British retailers are set for a bumper — but very different — holiday shopping season

The coronavirus crisis has caused serious challenges for many retailers this year with the holiday shopping season seen as their last chance to pull in much-needed sales. In the U.K, like in many nations, December usually represents the best month for sales of the entire year. But amid one of the worst economic crises in history, there are concerns on how the sector will fare. Nonetheless, experts have told CNBC that there are at least three reasons for British retailers to be optimistic.

“Clearly many people will be struggling financially as a result of the pandemic, but cashflows will have improved considerably for many other households across the U.K. given they have been forced to spend less on travel, commuting and going out, and many will have used this opportunity to build up their savings and pay down their debts,” Amisha Chohan, equity research analyst at the investment management firm Quilter Cheviot, said.

The household savings ratio in Britain, which is the percentage of cash people save rather than spend, increased from 9.6% in the first quarter to 29.1% in the second quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics. This represented a record since the data began in 1987.

Data from the U.K.’s statistics office has shown consumers spent about £82 billion in November and December of 2019. But due to pent-up demand, the British Retail Consortium, a trade association, has said that sales will “outdo” those seen last year.

British retailers are set for a bumper — but very different — holiday shopping season, CNBC, Dec 16

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