Struggling retailers are hoping for a late burst of trade on Monday as bargain hunting Britons take it to the wire on Christmas Eve shopping trips.
The high street is already a sea of red sale signs with Debenhams, House of Fraser, Topshop and New Look among the fashion brands offering up to 70% off deals. The desperate price cutting comes after stores were not as busy as expected on the biggest shopping day of the year, billed as “Super Saturday”.
“It was called Super Saturday but it was not particularly super,” said Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director. “Footfall on Friday and Saturday was lower than last year, by 6.5% and 0.7% respectively.”
A tough year for the high street has ended with a difficult Christmas after the uncertainty around Brexit weighed heavily on consumer confidence during the biggest shopping weeks of the year.
The challenges faced by retailers with large store estates has also been exacerbated by the growth of online spending with recent official data showing that online sales accounted for more than a fifth of spending for the first time in November.
Earlier this month the Sports Direct boss, Mike Ashley, warned that Debenhams and other big retail names faced being “smashed to pieces” by a savage high street downturn. The tough conditions resulted in some major casualties with fashion website Asos and Superdry among the chains to issue severe profit warnings in the run-up to Christmas.
However in some rare good news for the high street it emerged that the Hull branch of House of Fraser had been granted a reprieve. The collapsed chain was bought out of administration in August by Sports Direct which is still in the process of negotiating new rental agreements with landlords.
The Hull store, known locally as Hammonds, was due to shut on Saturday but the company said it had struck a deal with the landlord and Hull city council. “It is great that the Hull store is getting a second chance and saving over 100 jobs,” Ashley said in a statement. “This is a good example of what can be achieved when everyone pulls together.”
When the shops close on Monday the focus will immediately shift to end-of-year clearance sales with John Lewis and Marks & Spencer among the big high street names that will launch sales on their websites tonight. A study by the Centre for Retail Research predicts web spending will top £1bn on Christmas Day alone.