Christmas promise

Retailers can look forward to improved sales this Christmas despite a likely hike in interest rates in November analysts have said.

Verdict Research, retail analysts, part of the Datamonitor Group, predict that although Christmas sales are set to be better than last year, there will be an added pressure on retailers to compete aggressively on price due to the sharp rise in costs.

Nick Gladding, author of the findings, said Verdict expected retail sales for the final quarter of the year to amount to £74,4b, a 3.3% increase on 2005.

He added that the likely increase in retail spend this Christmas was due to a combination of improved customer confidence and weak comparatives.

Food retail sales have grown by 2.4%, year on year and Verdict estimates value in the fourth quarter of food retail will be £16.9bn compared to £16.5bn during the same period in 2005.

Gladding said: "While retailers will continue to use targeted promotions to stimulate spend from price sensitive consumers on popular lines in the run up to Christmas, there will be balanced by price increases on less high profile lines."

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