Almost a third of British consumers are planning to reduce spending on Christmas this year as the burden of lofty inflation weighs on shoppers.
(Bloomberg) — Almost a third of British consumers are planning to reduce spending on Christmas this year as the burden of lofty inflation weighs on shoppers.
Only 18% of Britons, by contrast, intend to spend more during the holidays than they did last year, according to research from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
The Christmas season can be a make-or-break period for retailers, which rely on shoppers to splurge on gifts, food and beverages for celebrations with family and friends. Around 80% of those who plan to spend less blamed rising food and energy costs, while just over 20% cited the challenge of mortgage or rent payments.
UK inflation slowed to an 18-month low in August, but prices remain elevated and fewer than a third of the adults surveyed by PwC described their household finances as healthy.
More people have begun their Christmas shopping earlier than in previous years to help budget for purchases, with one in five having started by mid-September, according to PwC.
“With shoppers wanting to protect spending on family and special occasions, they are starting preparations early and being cautious,” said Lisa Hooker, industry leader for consumer markets at PwC. “Last year shoppers did spend more than expected, so with falling headline inflation, there may yet be a last minute spending uptick. Retailers will certainly be on tenterhooks.”
Consumers may be becoming somewhat less downbeat. PwC’s autumn sentiment survey stood at -13, unchanged from the summer and well above its low of a year ago.
Retailers are still preparing for a bumper Christmas, just in case. Grocer Tesco Plc is recruiting 30,000 temporary workers, J Sainsbury Plc is hiring 22,000 and John Lewis Partnership Plc is bringing on more than 10,000 employees across its department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, the companies said.
Read more: Sainsbury Hiring 22,000 Temporary Staff for Christmas Sales Push
Marks & Spencer Group Plc is hiring 10,000 store workers, 40% more than last year. The food and clothing chain said its Christmas pre-ordered food sales have jumped 22% from this time last year as half of shoppers have already started preparing for the festive season.
(Updates with M&S recruits in final paragraph.)
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