UK Christmas retail sales up but volume down

Category: Data & Insights
£3bn less to spend on Christmas as UK consumers opt for marketplaces Christmas retail sales

UK Christmas retail sales is set to hit £84.9bn over the six weeks leading up to Christmas, as high inflation rates give retail sales a boost.

VoucherCodes.co.uk’s Shopping for Christmas Report 2023 forecasts a 3.3% rise in UK Christmas retail sales spending, with sales increasing £2.7bn from the £82.2bn spent in 2022.

However, whilst sales figures are set to rise, sales volume is forecast to decline by 4.1% indicating that inflation is the primary driver behind spend, rather than consumers purchasing more items.

UK Christmas retail sales: 2021-2022 actuals, 2023 forecast

Retail sales (£bn)Growth (%YoY)
202120222023 (forecast)202120222023 (forecast)
£84.71£82.20£84.906.3%-3.0%3.3%

Europe Christmas Retail sales

However, across Europe the situation is looking like a bleak midwinter is coming. With the exception of Spain, which is set to see sales rise by 4%, all the other European nations analysed will fail to see sales grow above 1% YoY. This is a stark contrast to last year when the UK saw the worst growth figures out of all European countries analysed.

The Netherlands is expected to see the worst sales growth this year with a rise of just 0.3% YoY, followed by Germany and Belgium both with a rise in sales of 0.6%. Looking at Europe as a whole, sales are expected to rise by 1.7% from £302.83bn to £307.92bn.

Gifts and Decorations spend forecast to fall

With the cost of living crisis eating away at budgets many consumers will be cutting back this Christmas and sales of gifts and decorations are predicted to be worst hit. As a result, gift spend is forecast to fall 3% to £11.25bn from £11.59bn, and decorations spend is set to fall 19.6% from £0.82bn to £0.66bn.

However, in better news, the travel sector is forecast to see a 15.2% rise in spend, with sales totalling £2.18bn as consumers travel across the country to celebrate with family and friends (vs. £1.89bn in 2022). Food and drink retailers can also expect a boost with sales increasing 5.5% to £7.68bn from £7.27bn last year.

The report shows in-store sales are set to continue to recover from their pandemic low, with almost two-thirds of purchases set to be made in-store this Christmas (64%). As a result, total offline sales are forecast to reach £54.01bn (+3.5% YoY), whereas online sales figures are more modest at £30.91bn (+3% YoY).

For the first time smartphone sales are expected to exceed PC sales, with smartphone devices now accounting for 41% of online sales, or £12.52bn. In comparison, PC sales hold a 38% share of online sales, with £11.83bn in sales over the Christmas period (£0.69bn less). With retailers increasingly adopting social media marketing and adapting their sites for mobile users, more consumers are choosing to do their Christmas shopping via mobile devices.

After a year of price rises and high inflation rates, it comes as no surprise that consumers are planning on cutting back on their Christmas spending this year, and unfortunately retailers are set to bear the brunt of these cuts.

Whilst retailers can look forward to a rise in spend, they’ll have to work hard to encourage customers to make purchases over the festive season. With limited budgets, consumers will be prioritising value above all else so offering deals, discounts and affordable prices will be vital in encouraging customers to part with their hard-earned cash this Christmas.

– Michael Brandy, Senior Commercial Director, VoucherCodes.co.uk

2 Responses

  1. Not so good for me I have always targeted those “extra” stocking fillers. It has been pretty slow for a October on eBay, I don’t think anyone hardly uses it these days.
    Everyone is skinto by the looks of the amount of for sale signs up around here this time of year never a good time to sell a house.
    Loads are buying their Tat on Temu loads of the lads at work have at least put one order in there.
    I actually have a ton of Crimbo decorations to sell al typical lucky the cost nowt.

    1. You can’t literally give stuff away as a seller on UK marketplaces, because the the market is flooded with high advert paying Chinese sellers.

      Anyone with half a brain could see this coming a mile off, small UK sellers are now getting destroyed, they have no margin, no volume, loads of stocks, a weak domestic currency vs the dollar, and no protection or regulations in their favor (actually more regulation) and expensive warehouses.

      Not exactly a win-win is it?

      Sadly I’m one of those people who will pay more for a UK Seller, but I find ever more on some items there simply isn’t one about because they’ve given up.

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