Sunday, 25 September 2011

Christmas Shopping Begins Even Earlier on Struggling British High Street

THE GUARDIAN: Mince pies go on sale in September as hard-pressed traders try to expand most profitable trading season

As Britain's high streets struggle to cope with a flatlining economy and collapsing demand from shoppers, major retailers have decided that Christmas needs to come earlier than ever.

A decade ago, retailers would not start their festive promotions until late October, but this year – with dozens of retail chains on the brink of bankruptcy – selection boxes, mince pies and even advent calendars and Christmas puddings are already on the shelves of supermarkets across the country.

Marks & Spencer on Oxford Street has a dedicated aisle for Christmas products. Brian Payne, a 70-year-old retiree from Tottenham, north London, was stocking up on mince pies on Friday lunchtime. "It's amazing, isn't it, that you can get all this Christmas stuff already," said Mr Payne, who had two boxes of lattice mince pies in his basket. "I want it to be Christmas every day, so I really don't mind that it's come around this early.

"They say 'for Christmas' on them, but if you look at the best-before date they only last till 2 October. I bought two boxes last week as well. I'll probably go through 30 boxes before I have one on Christmas day."

Richard Hyman of Deloitte says retailers have been forced to move their festive ranges and promotions forward because, for many shops, Christmas is the "only time they make any serious money".

"There is a very finite level of demand out there, so if the guy next door goes on promotion, retailers will feel obliged to follow suit," he said. » | Rupert Neate | Saturday, September 24, 2011

THE GUARDIAN: Milan fashion week spreads joy amid Italy's deepening market gloom: City's fashion week has been a huge hit, with brands tapping into nation's history to attract foreign buyers » | Tom Kington in Rome | Saturday, September 24, 2011