AT Kearney: battle for share of Christmas spend will be fierce

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Emmanuel Hembert, principal in the retail practice at management consultants, AT Kearney, predicts the battle for share of Christmas spend on the UK high street will be fierce and claims further casualties are inevitable

“As the Christmas lights are switched on, the UK high street faces a moment of truth,” said Hembert.

“2011 has been a terrible year for retailers. Consumer spending is contracting and bankruptcies are increasing (including major retail names).  

“The high street is gearing up to capture the consumer festive spend – but the battle for share of wallets will be fierce,” he claims. 

“Year-on-year volume forecasts are all but flat. Online retail is taking market share from the high street – indeed, almost 20% consumers intend to shop online this year, according to eDigitalResearch.  

“Large food retailers are expanding aggressively into non-food categories – Asda is launching a major promotional campaign focusing on toys and electronics with the aim of becoming the leading non-food retailer in the country,” said Hembert.

“In this context, it is inevitable that further casualties are to come. An early indicator the high street is preparing for tough trading conditions lies in the fact retail jobs have not yet picked up as they usually do, a hint that temporary hiring for Christmas time has so far been muted this year.”