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Mixed response to post-Christmas sales in the UK and US

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by Kay Mitchell

As retailers opened their doors after Christmas, shoppers in the UK queued for hours outside shops to grab a bargain.

In a bid to entice shoppers into the stores, retailers cut prices by up to 70% in the UK and a record number of stores opened on Boxing Day, sparking a 12.5% increase in the amount of people on the streets compared with Boxing Day 2007.

However, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said it had been ‘a poor Christmas‘ for many retailers.

This Christmas in the UK has claimed a number of casualties after childrenswear retailer Adams joins the list of other retailers in trouble after it has emerged that it is set to go into administration.

It was revealed on Christmas Eve that music and games retailer, Zavvi, had entered administration after it was hit by the collapse of Woolworths, which forced it to cease taking new orders via its website. Woolworths’ unit Entertainment UK (EUK), was Zavvi’s main supplier.

Furthermore, Woolworths and MFI have more or less closed their doors, while tea and coffee chain, Whittard of Chelsea, entered administration but has since been sold to EPIC private equity partners.

Across the Atlantic, US retailers tried to rescue what they could from the worst holiday shopping season since 1969.

In a bid to attract shoppers, stores in the US opened earlier after they had been left with large quantities of unsold stock.

The US experienced a slow week prior to Christmas with same-store sales falling by 0.6%. The International Council of Shopping Centers has forecasted that Christmas sales will fall by as much as 2% from last year.

Meanwhile, figures show that last weekend, 6 in 10 Americans stayed away from shops rather than shop for Christmas presents.

Figures from MasterCard showed that retail sales in the US (not including petrol) fell 4% in the period from 1 December to Christmas compared with 2007.

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News posted: December 29, 2008

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