A jolly Christmas forecast for UK retailers with sales to hit £48.7bn

A post-payday Black Friday and the lure of the festive in-store experience is predicted to contribute to the 3.8% growth on December 2018

Retail sales are predicted to pick up ahead of Christmas in the UK, according to new research by Mintel.

In its Christmas Gift Buying UK 2019 Reportm, the intelligence research company forecasts that sales will hit £48.7bn this December, up 3.8% on the same month last year.

The biggest contributor to the booming figure is predicted to be non-food retailers, which could bring in £23.9bn, including £4.2bn from online sales of physical stores.

Nick Carroll, Associate Director of Retail Research at Mintel, said: “The past few festive periods have shown that customers can be resilient in the face of uncertain times and we believe underlying demand will hold up reasonably well.

“Customers will, of course, be looking for value, and with fewer days between Black Friday and Christmas this year retailers’ margins may be particularly stretched.”

Online sales are expected to account for 23.7% of all retail sales, generating £11.6bn in December, with bricks-and-mortar due to take the lion’s share of trade.

Carroll added: “Although high street retailers may be under pressure, over-half (53%) of shoppers think visiting stores is a good way to get into the festive experience.

“Therefore the run up to Christmas is a great opportunity to get shoppers into stores and enthused about the physical shopping experience.

“Those that can provide valued experiences whilst tapping into other underlying trends, such as local sourcing and ethical production, combined with attracting value-conscious shoppers, put themselves in a good position this festive season.”

Black Friday, due to hit on the 29 November, could be the biggest it has ever been in the UK, Mintel stated, with its timing following payday lending weight to its expected success.

The competitive nature of the event is something that retailers continue to feel.

Carroll explained: “While we would expect certain key players to continue to abstain from the event, given the online-only retailers’ enthusiasm for Black Friday, for many the fear of losing sales in today’s highly competitive market means they have to be involved.”

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