UK retailers are facing a quieter boxing day amid the cost of living crisis

Retailers are bracing for a quieter Boxing Day this year despite the freedom from pandemic restrictions as the cost of living crisis hits shoppers’ budgets.

Spending is expected to reach nearly £3.8 billion on December 26, according to research by GlobalData for Vouchercodes.

That’s down about 4% from a year ago, which was already difficult for retailers due to concerns about the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which prevented some people from accessing the high street and led to restrictions on opening stores in some areas.

This revenue number indicates a significant drop in the volume of items purchased, given that inflation is running at more than 10%, so shoppers will spend more per purchase. More than a third of searches for this year’s Boxing Day deal are expected to take place online, with £1.25 billion going to be spent.

Adding a damper on the traditional post-Christmas shopping spree is the fact that many major chains — including Aldi, Iceland, John Lewis, Pets at Home, Poundland, and Beaverbrooks — will be closed on Boxing Day. Many are following a tradition that began in the pandemic, and in some cases even earlier, by rewarding hardworking employees with a day off after the festive shopping season.

Richard Walker, Managing Director, Iceland FoodsAnd the He said: “This year has affected everyone, so officially closing our doors on Boxing Day is just a token of appreciation for our employees.

“As we move into the winter months, the cost of living will unfortunately only increase, and while we work tirelessly to pass on savings and support to our clients, we must also look after our teams who are at the forefront of this crisis every day across the UK.”

The expected decline in Boxing Day trade compared to last year continues the long decline in popularity of the annual shopping tradition, combining the rise of November’s US-inspired discount day Black Friday with a move toward the start of year-end sales before Christmas. to steal her thunder.

shopping numbers

This year, a total of £1.08bn is expected to be spent online on Christmas Day, for example, when there was nothing to be bought not so long ago as shops were closed, although this is also a decrease of 4%. % in 2021.

Since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, there will be an additional bank holiday when stores are open – Tuesday, December 27th – which means bargain hunting can be spread out over other days, reducing the importance of December 26th pickups.

“The combination of Black Friday and the massive amount of discounts we’ve had across the industry has brought a lot of potential Boxing Day sales forward,” said Richard Lim, an analyst at Retail Economics.

However, Lim added that for those looking for bargains, retailers will likely discount heavily in an effort to liquidate shares that were ordered at the start of the year when “conditions looked much better.”

Boxing Day and January [price cuts] It will be deeper and more spread out than usual because retailers will be desperate to monetize inventories and prop up balance sheets as we go into a tailspin with a recession in 2023.”

He noted that there is a chance that stores will be busier than expected due to a combination of deep discounts and pent-up demand caused by a combination of strikes and pre-Christmas snow.

However, the expected difficult start to post-Christmas sales will add pressure to retailers already reeling from a lackluster winter due to transportation and mail strikes, snow and rising energy and food bills that have limited spare cash to spend on gifts and sweets. .

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