Spokespersons for the retailers suggest UK shoppers’ footfall in the immediate pre and post Christmas days was strong, with sales volumes up on a year ago. The interesting aspect will be how this translates into January. In ‘normal’ years, there is always a bit of ‘give and take’ between the two months as a) when and if the snow falls, and b) when and if the ‘discounts’ are launched, affects spending patterns.
This year’s mild December was very different from last year’s frozen one. Also, there seemed to be more sales ‘offers’ in December 2011 than ever before, with on-line sales continuing to raise volumes and values. “White-van man” is more likely to be delivering goods to households than materials and tools to a building project these days: Derek the Deliverer rather than Bob the Builder.
The fear is that January will also see a reverse of experience in year on year terms – will the final fling of end 2011 be replaced by 2012 angst as the reality of falling real incomes, adverse job prospects and low returns on savings affects UK disposable spending through the first quarter? Every forecaster says 2012 is going to be a torrid year for the economy. Hopefully, that means they’re all underestimating people’s resilience … vain hope. The trouble is any micro confidence can be snuffed out quickly by policy errors and macro turbulence.
I wish you a prosperous economic New Year – Let’s hope for the best but prepare for the worst.