Despite signs that the recession is beginning to pass, research we conducted in the past week paints a worrying picture for the high street. The run up to Christmas is the busiest time of the year for most stores; indeed many rely on this period to make any profit in the year. Results from our survey show, however, that the average spend on non-food goods this Christmas is set to decline by 15%. As many as a third of all shoppers also believe that they will be spending less this Christmas than last year, with a little more than half believing that their total non-food spend will be unchanged. Unsurprisingly, the main reason given to explain this is that they are ‘cutting back’ in the face of the recession.
In further worrying news for the high street, shoppers project that almost 30% of their non-food shopping will be done online this Xmas, with as many as a quarter of respondents doing more so this year than in 2008. We also found that around one in 10 shoppers say that they are ‘definitely holding back’ their purchases this year in anticipation of pre-Christmas sales. This shows a rise compared to our previous research. A further third believe that they will hold back ‘somewhat’ this year – as a group these shoppers make up more than twice the proportion of previous years. Clothing remains the most popular category to hold back on in anticipation of sales, but toys and games are estimated to be well up on previous Xmas research, as are electrical items.