Despite a particularly tough year, some Christmas cheer is forecast by leading market research analysis and intelligence agency Mintel, which forecasts December retail sales to be worth £48.7bn.
That equates to a respectable growth of +3.8% compared to last December when sales hit £46.9 bn.
Sales through non-food retailers this December are expected to reach £23.9bn – including £4.2bn from online sales generated by physical stores.
In the battle between the clicks and bricks, Mintel estimates that online-only retailers will account for £6.0bn worth of sales.
Mintel also forecasts total online sales this December will be worth £11.6bn, accounting for 23.7% of all retail sales.
Despite it being a far from ideal run-up to Christmas, with Brexit uncertainty dragging on and an election now a late additional hurdle for the sector to pass and process before the big day, Mintel forecasts that “December will result in steady growth for the retail sector.”
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.
“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.”
Carroll therefore believes that 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.”
The new research confirms that Black Friday is now fully ingrained in the retail calendar and, according to Mintel, last year almost two in five (39%) of British consumers made a purchase during the Black Friday promotions.
Avoiding the retail rush, 86% of Black Friday shoppers bought online, while just under three in ten (29%) bought in-store. Amazon was the most popular destination, with 42% of Black Friday buyers shopping with the online giant during the event.
Overall, electrical items were the most popular purchases, bought by 49% of Black Friday shoppers, followed by clothing and footwear (38%) and beauty and fragrance (25%).
Bagging a seasonal bargain ahead of December, seven in ten (67%) Black Friday shoppers bought something as a Christmas gift. While six in ten (58%) say they delayed planned purchases until the event, highlighting how disruptive Black Friday can be to trading either side of the sales bonanza.
Regarding Black Friday, Carroll added: “Black Friday is here to stay, and we expect it to be potentially the biggest it’s ever been in the UK. Unlike in recent years, Black Friday 2019 falls right at the end of the month – after payday and less than four weeks before Christmas. This makes perfect timing to capitalise on shoppers who are looking to save during this uncertain period.”