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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 12:19 GMT
UK shoppers increase Christmas spending
Consumers will suppress their worries and head for the shops this month, according to a survey that has predicted a rise in Christmas spending.

Christmas spending on gifts, food & drink
466 (744 euros)
224 (357 euros)
175 (279 euros)
168 (269 euros)
113 (181 euros)
101 (161 euros)

Deloitte & Touche
The average Briton will spend 568 on gifts, food and drink, and parties and socialising, up from last year's 560, consultancy Deloitte & Touche said.

That sum is several times as much as French, German, Dutch, Danish and Spanish shoppers will spend, a separate Deloitte & Touche survey said.

"We've always been the big spenders," a D&T spokeswoman said.

Shoppers' resilience is being credited with helping stave off recession in the UK.

"Consumer spending has been propping up the UK economy and retailers have had a good year, with sales growth up 8% on the previous year," said Deloitte & Touche's head of consumer business, Richard Lloyd-Owen.

"Christmas is a huge time for retailers and will still make up the majority of some retailers' annual sales."

The league of most popular Christmas toys will be topped by Harry Potter and Bob the Builder merchandise, Wednesday's report forecast.

Last year's favourite item, the mini-scooter, will be pushed aside by the bouncy Airgo pogo stick, the report added.

Rational consumers

Overall Christmas spending this year is predicted to be 1.45% above that a year before.

But sales growth this month will be "much more modest" than for 2001 as a whole, Mr Lloyd-Owen said.

"Consumers are just more likely to be sensible rather than over-indulgent this Christmas."

More than 40% of consumers expected the economic climate to deteriorate.

Retailers sent out similarly conflicting signals, with almost half believing the economic situation is getting worse.

Yet 77% of them said they thought sales would rise in December, Deloitte & Touche said.

Regional variations

Within the UK, the biggest spenders will be found in the north east of England, where the average spend should reach 644, D&T predicted.

In the south west, the average spend was expected to rise sharply from last year, yet to remain, at 476, as the lowest in the country.

Online shopping

Two in three retailers offer the option of online shopping this Christmas.

Airgo Pogo stick
Airgo pogo sticks take over from last year's hit, the mini-scooter

Yet, only one in 10 retailers expected the web to make a marked difference to their sales figures this Christmas.

Last year, almost one in three expected the internet to boost sales.

The proportion of consumers saying they planned to shop on the web this year was, at 12%, one percentage point higher than a year before, the survey said.

"Retailers appreciate that consumers expect the choice of on-line shopping, even if most people still prefer the experience of visiting stores in the festive season," Mr Lloyd-Owen said.

Several other internet analysts have proved more optimistic about this year's Christmas sales on the web.

The BBC's Jenny Scott
"Consumers seem to be happy to carry on spending"
See also:

05 Dec 01 | Business
E-tailers prepare for Xmas boom
04 Dec 01 | Business
UK shoppers shrug off gloom
14 Nov 01 | Business
UK economy to recover in 2003
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