Christmas shoppers drawn to 'theatre' of high street, claims report

House of Fraser: Christmas 2011 display
House of Fraser: Christmas 2011 display

Despite the continued rise of ecommerce, a large number of British consumers are braving the traffic, crowds and cold to shop on the high street.

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The British Retail Consortium has revealed that numbers for the week beginning December 12 were up 2.5% year-on-year across all locations. Both high street and shopping centre Christmas shoppers were up by 2.6% each, while out-of-town stores experienced a 0.3% increase.

Research from shopper marketing agency Live and Breathe suggests that lavish Christmas windows are putting the theatre back into the retail experience.

The report praised Selfridges for integrating on and offline activity, stating: "The website carries the same icy look and feel. While the seasonal promotions were in evidence in both spaces, the initiatives were different."

However, not all retailers hit the right note with their windows. Harrods, famed for its lavish store windows, was criticised in the report, which said: "It's a shame that one of the wintery sets ends up looking like a stack of sun beds, one of top of each other, with a semi-clothed model topping up her tan."

Christmas shopping in numbers

  • MasterCard research found that Christmas shopping on the high street costs an average of £84 more than purchasing online. This takes into account the added temptation of impulse purchasing and costs such as parking and petrol.
  • According to Mintel, 73% of consumers prefer to visit shops and handle items before purchasing.
  • UK consumers are set to spend £186.4m online on Christmas day this year, 12% more than last year, according to predictions from retail body IMRG.


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