Blackfriar: Who will be the winners and losers in the retail world this Christmas?

Father Christmas and Lucie at Breakfast and Tea with Father Christmas event. 
By Christmas Eve, Wyevale Garden Centres, the UK�"s largest garden centre retailer, will have served over 40,000 people at their Breakfast and Tea with Father Christmas events.
Father Christmas and Lucie at Breakfast and Tea with Father Christmas event. By Christmas Eve, Wyevale Garden Centres, the UK�"s largest garden centre retailer, will have served over 40,000 people at their Breakfast and Tea with Father Christmas events.
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Analysts are expecting a mixed bag for retailers this Christmas.

Shore Capital said weaker consumer confidence suggests that the UK consumer remains both fragile and volatile. It added that Christmas 2017 will be polarised in terms of performance.

The latest BRC data highlights a divergence between the grocers and non-food retailers. Shore Capital said the winners this Christmas are likely to be the grocers, pure-play clothing brands and value discounters.

It appears that non-food stores are having a tough time. Many people in Yorkshire are curbing spending on big ticket items as economic anxieties mount up, according to the Disposable Income Index by ISA provider Scottish Friendly.

Nearly three in ten Yorkshire households (29 per cent) say they have delayed expensive purchases of cars, home improvements or TVs in the last 12 months.

The majority (80 per cent) say they don’t have enough money to cover the cost.

The quarterly report paints a grim view for Yorkshire consumers. Calum Bennie, savings expert at Scottish Friendly, said we seem to be stuck in a rut of economic uncertainty.

“The country is anticipating the outcome of Brexit negotiations and the impact this will have on the wider UK economy,” he said.

As talks in Brussels fail to make progress, many people are wondering what on earth will happen next.

More than half of British people now think the country will get a bad Brexit deal, according to a new survey out this week. A report by polling expert Professor John Curtice suggests the UK public has become more critical of the way negotiations are being handled and more pessimistic about the consequences of Brexit.

A survey of 2,200 people found 52 per cent now think Britain will get a bad deal - up from 37 per cent in February - while the proportion of Leave voters who think the UK will get a good Brexit deal has fallen from 51 per cent to 28 per cent in the same period.

Some 61 per cent of those asked said the Government is handling negotiations badly - up from 41 per cent in February. The study also found just 21 per cent of Leave voters questioned think the Government has handled the Brexit negotiations well, compared with 42 per cent in February.

Mr Bennie said it is little wonder that many of us are deferring purchasing big ticket items as we wait to see if the financial situation will improve.

All of this does not bode well for Yorkshire retailers of big ticket items such as Doncaster-based sofa specialist DFS Furniture and Bradford-based double glazing ​firm Safestyle, which are both already suffering.

They have been hit by falling expenditure as people can postpone buying a new sofa or getting their windows double glazed.

Falling sales accompanied by rising overhead and labour costs is clearly a considerable pressure upon the profitability of many retailers.

Shore Capital believes this pressure is likely to lead to more retail failures over the peak period.

However things look much brighter for the grocery sector.

Shore Capital said grocery volumes appear to be resilient driven by a number of processes including the “premiumisation” of private label and the drive by many shoppers for food that enhances their well-being.

Whilst the festive period still needs to be delivered, analysts at Shore Capital said they are cautiously optimistic with respect to New Year trading updates from the grocers.

Whatever happens with the Brexit negotiations, the nation seems determined to forget politics this Christmas and enjoy themselves round the dinner table.