Half of all retailers expect to register rising revenues this Christmas, despite the turbulent trading environment.
According to Barclays’ Christmas Confidence Survey, 49% of retailers said they were predicting an increase in sales over the crucial trading period, compared to last year.
And almost three-quarters of retailers said they were either more confident or as confident about their prospects as they were a year ago.
Their resilience comes despite October’s record slump in non-food sales, which sparked fears of a difficult Christmas.
Research from Visa also suggested that festive sales would slip 0.1% this year, with high street stores feeling the full force of consumer cutbacks.
However, more than 40% of retailers insisted that an increased marketing push this year would have a positive impact on their Christmas trading, with 34% of businesses admitting they had increased the amount they had spent on their festive campaigns in a bid to drum up spend.
Retailers also suggested they were rethinking their promotional activity in a bid to preserve margins.
Seven in 10 companies said they were planning discounts more carefully this year, opting to spread discounts over a longer period rather than cutting prices too heavily on Black Friday.
Despite that, 73% of businesses said they were participating in the promotional frenzy this year, but 36% said they would limit the amount of products on offer.
Barclays Corporate Banking’s head of retail and wholesale Ian Gilmartin said: “It’s a difficult time with the combination of rising costs and uncertainty around Brexit contributing to a tricky overall operating environment, so the enduring confidence for the Christmas period is great to see and testament to the efforts being made by all involved in the retail sector.”
On the Black Friday promotional extravaganza, which many retailers have extended to days or weeks of discounting, Gilmartin added: “The truth is that most retailers don’t like Black Friday, with less than one in five believing that discounting generates increased sales.
“Consumers now expect heavy price cuts across the board in the middle of the retail industry’s most important season, so the evolving approach, with two-thirds of retailers telling us they are planning discounts more carefully this year, reveals that retailers are focused on finding ways to make Black Friday work for them.”