CHRISTMAS shoppers in the Midlands are set to trim back their spending on gifts, food and drink and partying this year, according to new figures.
Deloitte’s 2008 Christmas Retail Survey showed consumers are planning to spend £364 per person on gifts – down one per cent on last year’s predicted spend. Nationally, the predicted average gift spend is £359.
Food and drink budgets are also expected to be cut this Christmas from £176 to £172 per person – a two per cent drop year-on-year but still higher than the national average of £170.
The partying pursestrings have also been tightened slightly with revellers planning to spend £135 on going out during the festive season – down from £136 in 2007 but still seven per cent higher than the average spend on socialising across the UK.
Despite the predicted cutbacks, an estimated £5.3 billion will be spent on gifts, food and drink and socialising across the region during the festive season, a figure which brought cheer to retail analysts.
Jane Whitlock, consumer business partner at Deloitte in Birmingham, said: “Whether it’s splashing out on gifts for friends and family, stocking up on festive food and drink or going out partying, the message is clear, it will be Christmas as usual in the Midlands.
“Predicted overall spend for the Christmas period is down one per cent in the region but still three per cent higher the national average. What’s more, across the UK the Midlands is showing the lowest decline in overall spending. Considering the economic downturn, this should be encouraging news for the region’s retailers.
“Of course, the caveat to this is whether the recent fall in interest rates and falling food and fuel prices will hit household budgets in time for Christmas.
“What’s more, people are still concerned about job security and overall wealth, which may well impact on household spending. The proof will be in the Christmas pudding.”
Meanwhile, new figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed retail sales are down on one year ago - the first time they have fallen over a 12-month period since April 2005.
UK sales fell 2.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis from October last year. The BRC said the “seriously poor numbers” reflected plummeting consumer confidence.
The figures for the four weeks to November 1 show food and drink was the only sector to show sales significantly up on a year ago. Sales of clothing and footwear remained poor and often discount-driven, despite colder and much wetter weather than last October, while furniture and homewares sales fell further below those of a year ago.
Discounts and promotions had often failed to tempt consumers, the figures showed. They also revealed online sales fell in the days after the banking crisis hit, suggesting consumers were anxious about their finances.