• Shoppers will spend £423 each on Christmas shopping this year
  • Toiletries, beauty and perfume expected to prove most popular category
  • West End poised for £2.3bn bonanza in the six weeks before Christmas
  • The total would be the biggest festive spend in the area since 2007

Consumers plan to spend more than £400 each on Christmas shopping this year, with retailers in London’s West End poised for a £2.3bn bonanza.

Shoppers across the UK will splash out an average of £423 on presents ahead of the big day. Consumers in the 35-54 age bracket are set to be the biggest spenders with £484 expected to be spent on gifts, according to an ICM poll conducted exclusively for Retail Week.

Toiletries, beauty and perfume are again predicted to prove popular, with 67% of people planning to purchase gifts in that category. ICM said 65% of people will buy entertainment goods, while 64% plan to buy clothes, shoes and accessories for their family and friends ahead of the festive season.

And as consumers draw up their lists, retailers in the West End are poised to grab a huge slice of the pie, with £2.3bn expected to be spent in stores on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street in the six weeks leading up to Christmas – a total that would represent the highest spend since 2007.

Increased footfall

According to the New West End Company’s Christmas Tracker Report, shoppers will spend £5.1m every hour during the period, representing a 1.2% uplift in spend compared to the same time last year. Footfall is set to increase 30% on the annual average for the region, while the average spend is estimated to rocket 66%.

The research, which was carried out with Harper Dennis Hobbs, said lower prices and higher disposable incomes had boosted consumer confidence, while an increased spend from American tourists – sparked by the strength of the dollar against the pound – is set to further boost retailers’ coffers.

New West End Company said the combination of tax-free sales and a 5% decrease in prices so far this year has seen the number of Americans buying goods in the region soar 17% compared to 2014.

Christmas confidence

New West End Company deputy chief executive Jace Tyrrell said: “The West End is an economic powerhouse for the UK, making a vital 4% contribution to GDP in the past year alone. When every hour during our festive season is worth a collective £5.1m to West End retailers, it is easy to understand why the season is so tremendously important to the UK’s economic well-being.

“As we entered 2015, many retailers feared the worst – tough trading conditions and an uncertain political environment made prospects appear very bleak. And yet, as we head towards our busiest trading period, we now do so with confidence.

“Once the Christmas lights are illuminated and Black Friday anticipation begins, we can officially start the countdown to what we hope will be a very prosperous Christmas indeed.”

Harper Dennis Hobbs head of retail consultancy Jonathan De Mello added: “UK retail continues to improve – economic fundamentals are very strong, with low unemployment and inflation, and rising incomes and consumer confidence.

“As a result, this Christmas is likely to be the best for retailers since 2007, and the West End – as the UK’s principal retail hub – will be the main beneficiary.”