West Midland retailers have been advised to make sure they adequately predict stock levels ahead of the crucial Christmas shopping period.
Experts at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Birmingham said that with consumer confidence dipping, rising inflation and concerns over a more prolonged slowdown in the economy, retailers across the region were facing particularly challenging festive trading conditions.
Andy Lyon, retail expert and partner at PwC in the Midlands, said that given the unpredictable market, local retailers were facing a particularly tough call on how much stock to order for the period.
“Although it is still too early to predict just how challenging this Christmas will prove for retailers, all the indicators point towards tough times ahead, particularly in non-food retailing, such as fashion, clothing and furniture stores,” he said. “As such, if retailer stock levels are too high and the trading conditions remain tough, we may very well see some significant discounting prior to the traditional sales period.
“In some sectors, much will depend on the weather. Fashion retailers in particular will very much be hoping for a cold snap in the run up to the festive period to tempt more shoppers to top up their wardrobes,” added Mr Lyon.
He said that either way, shoppers were likely to be much more sensitive about how much they spend. “In clothing, we are already seeing shoppers looking to economise by making purchases that can be worn across several seasons.
“As with every festive period, there will be winners and losers. In general merchandising, those retailers who focus on practical, cost effective presents are likely to fare better than their counterparts offering more expensive, big-ticket items.”