Christmas shopping season off to slow start

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The Christmas shopping season got off to a subdued start last week, with consumer spending 2.8 per cent lower than it was a year ago, research has found.

The figures, released by Visa, provide further evidence of the continuing mood of caution among under-pressure households and the tough job ahead for retailers to encourage shoppers to part with their money this Christmas.

Spending was down year-on-year last week in six out of eight categories monitored by the research, with spending on health and education plunging by 21.4 per cent, clothing and footwear down by 5.1 per cent, recreation and culture dropping by 6.4 per cent and food and drink recording a 3.2 per cent fall.

Hotels and restaurants bucked the downward trend by recording a 3.9 per cent year-on-year increase.