The high end department store’s decision to start discounting goods from today comes despite data showing retail sales boomed last month. Experts said momentum had already faded and many businesses now fear Christmas trading could be weaker than expected.
Retail sales grew by 1.4% in November, which was higher than expected thanks to a bumper Black Friday and early Christmas shopping.
That is likely to be the high water mark as Omicron fears keep people indoors, inflation squeezes incomes, and confidence sinks. GfK’s long-running monthly consumer confidence index, also published today, declined by one point to a balance of -15 in December.
The New West End Company said footfall in central London was 32% below pre-pandemic levels yesterday as shoppers stayed home.
Danni Hewson at AJ Bell said: “December’s already shaping up to be a very different story. Footfall is down dramatically and there will be some consumers deciding what they don’t have now they won’t be buying.”
Jacqui Baker, head of retail at RSM UK, said: “The unfolding situation around rising Omicron cases and extra restrictions will hit consumer confidence and sales in December. As Christmas parties get cancelled, partywear will remain on the rails so retailers may find themselves stockpiling this season’s product until next year – tying up money in stock as we head into the New Year.”
Jace Tyrrell, CEO of New West End Company, said this Saturday’s tube strike would likely add to retailers woes in central London.
He said: “The Government must act quickly to provide temporary financial support to leisure businesses across the UK, otherwise we run the risk of further viable businesses closing their doors in the coming months.”