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Two weeks in retail - 5th December

Monday 3rd December was dubbed Cyber Monday as experts predicted the busiest shopping day of the year online as shoppers went online to bag their Christmas shopping following pay day.

Shoppers were expected to spend £222,222 a minute and £320 million during the one day alone.

Research firm Experian believed there would be an increase of more than a third in visits to online retail sites.

Although it is a little early to know how sales actually panned out nerves remain frayed amongst retailers for the Christmas trading period. The latest sales figures from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed that like for likes rose 0.4% year on year in November with total sales up 1.8%.

The monitor suggested that although November started well thanks to end of month paydays, mid-season sales and the impact of half term, sales slowed later in the month. KPMG – BRC’s partner in compiling the figures – called November a “cautious month of wait and see.”

As shoppers continue to watch their purses and wallets it seems that as ever pricing and promotions will be key to the success of retailers and the Christmas trading period in general with shoppers desperate for good deals.

For some less than honest shoppers though the good deal scenario may be taken a bit far.

A new report from the Centre for Retail Research suggests that shoplifting and fraud could cost UK retailers more than £1 billion this Christmas thanks to a combination of shoplifting, employee theft and vendor or distribution losses.

Broken down the report said that the figures were £522 million for shoplifting, £431 million through employee theft and £47 million from vendor and distribution losses. It predicts the losses will rise 3.4% against last year and could add an additional £38.09 to the shopping bill of each family in the UK.

The report said thieves would target alcohol, women's clothing and fashion accessories, toys, perfumes, smart phones and tablet computers as well as item such as men’s toiletries, DVD gift sets and game consoles, food and Christmas decorations, electrical goods, and watches and jewellery.

Overall, the study found that the cost of shoplifting and fraud to retailers over the Christmas period would be €5.8 billion in Europe, and $8.9 billion in the USA.

The demise of electrical retailer Comet has continued to dominate the headlines with more stores closing and further job losses as the administration process continues at the chain.

At the value end however there was good news for B&M Bargains which has been sold to a US private equity firm called Clayton Dubilier & Rice. Reports say that former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy will become chairman of the Liverpool based retailer. The new owners plan to build the brand both at home and overseas following its success in the current climate.

Fellow retailers will only be hoping that after this Christmas period they are still able to do the same.

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