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Two weeks in the UK - Deep breaths

Now with less than a week to go the winners and losers of this year’s Christmas season are already becoming clear.

One of the biggest winners this year will be undoubtedly be the consumer who, having held their nerve, has been rewarded with some massive savings across most retail sectors in the past fortnight.

According to a PWC survey by last weekend two thirds of retailers were already offering Sale or advertising promotions to tempt in customers.

According to the ONS last week the value of retail sales rose 4.6% in November compared to the same month last year however sales volumes only rose 0.7%. It followed the publication of November’s CPI annual inflation figures which actually fell in November down from 5 to 4.8%.

The ONS sales figures also showed that the average weekly spend on online retailing has risen from £546.4 million in October to £787.9 million for November and is now estimated by account for 12.2% of all retail sales.

Trading was predicted to hit a record high the past weekend – the last full weekend of trading pre-Christmas. But instead many shoppers and retailers reported quiet weekends, although shopping centres were busy.

Experian Footfall reported an increase of 11.8% compared to the same weekend last year however snow affected footfall this time last year so it is not yet really clear how trading was.

The fact that, anecdotally, many reported quieter than expected weekends could be down to a number of reasons – it may be that a greater proportion have shifted to the convenience of online, or that shoppers are holding out for even bigger bargains – or as is more likely, that with heavy press dubbing last weekend “panic Saturday”, that shoppers have simply decided to be a little better planned with their shopping trips and to either go this week or to take advantage of late night openings for a quieter shopping experience.

Which ever it is for the week to Saturday December 17 John Lewis saw sales break through the £130 million for the first time ever for a week with electronics, toys and home accessories performing particularly well to deliver £133.1 million of sales.

Sadly the losers are also already clear.

January will bring more casualties but already La Senza has had to appoint KPMG to restructure the business with administration or a CVA a possibility.

Meanwhile Blacks Leisure has also been up for sale and could be in administration before Christmas according to reports whilst value retailer Peacocks is reported to be considering closing up to 200 of its stores.

With the final week of trading there is all to play for.

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