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Most UK shoppers cut back Christmas spending this year

The extent to which UK consumers reined-in their spending this Christmas season has become clear from a new survey that shows almost half of them spending less this time compared to 2016. And 25% have no plans to go bargain-hunting in the January sales either.

Research firm Retail Economics spoke to 2,000 households and found that 47% cut back their Christmas spending for 2017 while 28% spent around the same as last year. Only 25% spent more despite the fact that prices overall were higher this year due to rising inflation.

Clearly, discounting was key. Some 20% of consumers took advantage of Black Friday discounts to buy Christmas presents and 25% said that they wouldn’t be shopping for further bargains post-Christmas during the clearance period.

And where did people shop this time? Well, 37% went to Amazon, which topped the popularity list. Asda was next (26%), followed by Tesco (25%), and M&S (23%).

Retail Economics CEO Richard Lim said that online would have seen the biggest share of growth with two-thirds of shoppers having gone online for at least part of their Christmas shopping. But the shift to the internet doesn’t seem to have been evenly spread given Amazon’s strength.

But regardless of how much people spent online or in-store, Lim also said that relentless discounting means margins would have been undermined, even for those stores that attracted the bulk of UK shopper attention this season. Next month will see a raft of trading statements from the biggest UK names and the extent to which discounting ate into profits will become clearer.

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