New Year VAT rise sparks bumper festive ad blitz

John Lewis: £6m Christmas campaign
John Lewis: £6m Christmas campaign

Britain's biggest retailers are investing in a festive advertising onslaught ahead of the increase in VAT in January.

Although retailers are notoriously tight-lipped about their festive adspend, sources claim Marks & Spencer has increased its £10m investment by about £2m year on year, a figure the retailer refused to confirm.

M&S started its Christmas ad campaign nine days earlier than last year. This follows predictions by retail analysts that consumers plan to shop early this year to spread the cost, and may look for 'bargains' that would be subject to the VAT rise in January.

Tesco, meanwhile, is to intensify its battle against rival supermarket Asda, with agency sources suggesting it will spend £13m over the festive period.

Craig Inglis, marketing director at John Lewis, which launches its £6m campaign this Saturday, is hopeful that sales of its Christmas range will increase year on year, despite a bumper year in 2009.

Despite concerns the ad market will plummet next year, Adam Smith, futures director at Group M, said: 'We have modest hopes for 2011 - we expect to see 3% growth.'

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