Retailer confidence sky-high for festive season, survey finds

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UK lingerie retailers have funnelled funds into bumper marketing campaigns for the festive season, as Christmas confidence strengthens, according to a new report.

The Barclays Christmas Confidence Survey has revealed that a third (34%) of UK retailers have increased their marketing spend, despite rising cost pressures, while 43% predict that increased marketing across the industry will have a positive impact on Christmas trading.

The results also show that confidence for the Christmas period is holding up, with 71% of retail respondents saying they are more confident or as confident about their overall Christmas trading prospects compared to 2016, and 49% saying that they expect to achieve revenue growth.

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Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “It’s a difficult time with the combination of rising costs and uncertainty around Brexit contributing to a tricky overall operating environment, so the enduring confidence for the Christmas period is great to see and testament to the efforts being made by all involved in the retail sector.”

Black Friday, which is set to take place on November 24, with many brands already slashing prices in anticipation, will continue to be a key pillar of most retailers’ Christmas strategies.

Barclays found that 73% of retailers are participating in the mass-sale event, but 50% will limit Black Friday deals to certain channels and more than a third (36%) will limit the amount of product on offer.

Looking at the wider Christmas period, 70% of retailers are planning discounts more carefully to maximise margins, with more discounting of select products over a longer period this year rather than heavy discounting on Black Friday being the preferred strategy for many.

“The truth is that most retailers don’t like Black Friday, with less than one in five believing that discounting generates increased sales,” explained Gilmartin.

“Consumers now expect heavy price cuts across the board in the middle of the retail industry’s most important season, so the evolving approach, with two thirds of retailers telling us they are planning discounts more carefully this year, reveals that retailers are focused on finding ways to make Black Friday work for them.”

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