Are retailers' expectations too high?
With day-to-day trading of constant interest to retailers, is interviewing a number of The Mall's centre managers during the final week of this year's Christmas shopping period.

The fourth report in this series comes from The Mall Southampton general manager Jerry Stampfer.

'The truth is that retail sales have been good and stores have performed extremely well across the board. However, expectations may be too high in some sectors, especially where retailers have set a pattern of going into Sale early. Shoppers have come to expect price reductions before Christmas and many now wait for the Sale rather than buying at full price.

Most retailers, especially the gift stores, such as Whittard, The Perfume Shop and our Christmas favourite, Hawkins Bazaar, have performed exceptionally well and many have exceeded targets. Others, while maintaining high levels of sales are reporting a more modest Christmas, in which they have been unable to achieve increased targets.

Footfall was certainly up during the early part of the season and has held steady on the whole. However, the peak was probably the weekend two weeks before Christmas.

On the whole, retailers must be happy with levels of business even if some have not achieved inflated targets. The lesson for next year may be to post more realistic, modest targets and look to exceed them. This would mean store staff feeling good about their achievements rather than being disappointed about not meeting the ever-increasing demands of head office.