Quieter Boxing Day expected as cost of living crisis weighs

cost of living crisis

Spending is expected to hit almost £3.8bn on 26 December, according to research by GlobalData for Vouchercodes

Retailers are preparing for a quieter Boxing Day this year despite freedom from pandemic restrictions as the cost of living crisis weighs on shoppers’ budgets.

Spending is expected to hit almost £3.8bn on 26 December, according to research by GlobalData for Vouchercodes.

That is down almost 4% on last year, which was already a tough one for retailers because of fears of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which deterred some people from hitting the high street and led to restrictions on store openings in some areas.

That revenue figure indicates a big dive in the volume of items bought, given that inflation is running at more than 10%, so shoppers will be spending more per purchase. More than a third of this year’s Boxing Day bargain hunting is expected to be done online, where £1.25bn will be spent.

The expected fall in Boxing Day trade compared with last year continues a long decline in popularity of the annual shopping tradition, as the rise of the US-inspired November discount day Black Friday and the move towards starting end of year sales before Christmas Day have combined to steal its thunder.

This year, a total of £1.08bn is expected to be spent online on Christmas Day, for example, when not so long ago almost nothing used to be bought as stores were closed, although this is also a 4% drop on 2021.

Since Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year, there will be an extra bank holiday when the shops are open – on Tuesday 27 December – meaning the bargain hunting can be spread over more days, further diluting the significance of 26 December takings.

The combination of Black Friday and the vast amount of discounts we have had throughout the industry has brought a lot of those potential Boxing Day sales forward, Richard Lim, an analyst at Retail Economics, said.

However, Lim added that for those in search of bargains, retailers were likely to be discounting heavily in an effort to clear stocks which were ordered at the beginning of the year when ‘conditions looked much rosier’.

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