Retailer’s demise pulls forward seasonal sales of electricals and technology.
Electricals retailers believe interest in the category sparked by the collapse of Comet may reshape the typical Christmas trading pattern this year by pulling sales forward.
The administration of Comet and the launch of a clearance Sale last week have drawn shoppers not just to its stores but to those of rivals. Consumer disappointment at the level of discounting at Comet so far has lifted footfall across the board and added to an uplift in custom on the back of launches such as the latest tablet devices.
Now retailers are trying to work out the extent to which normal seasonal trading will be affected. One industry source said: “Fears of a damaging fire Sale are diminishing. What people are asking is has Christmas been pulled forward? Will there be a lull at some point?”
The surge in interest in electricals and technology was evident in the weekly update from John Lewis, which showed a 29% year-on-year rise as shoppers snapped up items such as the iPad 4.
Similarly, Dixons’ visitor numbers rose by 60,000 the weekend after Comet hit the buffers. John Lewis electricals and home technology buying director Ed Connolly said there was evidence of sales being brought forward.
He said: “There has been a raised level of interest from consumers earlier than in prior years because it [Comet] has been in the press, coupled with key product launches.
“It has drawn sales forward but I don’t think it will hinder Christmas – it will just raise the overall number.”
Conlumino lead consultant Matt Piner said he would not be surprised if purchases are being made earlier but did not expect long-term disruption.
He observed: “Next year there will be extra market share for the others to go for, and that outweighs any short-term effect.”
As Retail Week went to press, Comet’s 236 shops were still trading. Industry sources expect more aggressive discounting to start at Comet imminently.