Making sense of the past seven days
In this week's Retail Week we examine the outlook for Christmas and, perhaps surprisingly after such a tough year, things don't look too bad.

That doesn't mean there won't be winners and losers - and for the losers there will be precious little cheer this festive season.

Things look difficult for fashion store groups in particular. Unseasonal weather has made things bad enough, but there is growing unease that the trend spotters may have got things wrong. Grey is one of this season's big colours, but the jury is out on whether it appeals.

Last week, Panmure Gordon put the entire clothing sector on its sell list and, in today's Times, half of the front page is devoted to how grey is turning off women shoppers.

However, fashion groups we spoke to have insisted that shoppers are buying the product. Some even argued that the strength of this season's styles have helped compensate for the problems caused by the vagaries of the weather.

Soon enough, all will become clear. In a fortnight the Christmas season will get under way in earnest. The timing and extent of Sales and promotions ahead of the big holiday will reveal the true trends of the season.

In the past few weeks international stories have featured prominently in Retail Week, whether Next's Indian venture or Peacocks' push into eastern Europe.

This week, we reveal that Home Depot is finally preparing to go head to head with Kingfisher's B&Q chain in China. And, in a supreme irony, former Kingfisher boss Sir Geoff Mulcahy is involved in the deal that will allow the US giant to make its Far Eastern debut.

Sir Geoff has been advising Du Sha, the Chinese tycoon who is selling his HomeWay business to Home Depot. It's almost four years since Sir Geoff was eased out of Kingfisher, but he has not lost his passion for the stores sector. Anybody who thought his deal-making days were done has been proved wrong. What will he do next? Maybe a big private equity-backed deal here in the UK?

Retail Week's campaign for store crime to be taken seriously may be starting to bear fruit. We reveal this week that two senior Government figures have emphasised that proposals to remove the option of a prison sentence for persistent shoplifters have not been finalised. The decision will be up to the Government and there seems to be a distinct coolness about relaxing the law.

Let's hope that's the case. If you haven't backed our campaign yet, there's till time. E-mail us at and we'll make sure your comments are passed on to the Sentencing Advisory Panel.