RETAILERS in Huddersfield have embarked on a “make or break” two weeks of trading.
The final fortnight of the year provides a last chance for stores to regain ground lost during the past few months when sales have broadly slumped.
Kingsgate manager Jonathan Hardy said takings among the centre’s tenants last weekend were down by 5% to 10% on normal – but this week offered a chance to make up some of the deficit.
He said: “There is no getting away from the fact that trading is tough, but the retailers generally say the figures are getting there.
“The weekend was good in that sales were no worse than they had hoped. We are not up on last year, but we are not as far down as many other retail centres.”
Mr Hardy said traders now had a full week before Christmas to set the tills ringing.
The start of the school holidays meant more families would be out and about – while this week was also when shoppers traditionally shun the hassle of queuing to park at out-of-town centres to complete their Christmas ‘shop’ back on the high street.
Mr Hardy said: “We expect to have a good week this week, but it is going to be tough and every penny and pound is going to have to be fought for.”
Mr Hardy said some retailers had already started the ‘new year’ sales on some product lines – and from Boxing Day the sales would get under way in earnest.
“We have held our own throughout 2011 with higher footfall and we are not a million miles from where we were last year.”
Meanwhile, a survey of 100 high street retailers by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that 66% were advertising sales or price promotions such as three for two in their windows last week.
That compares with 55% at the same time last year and 63% in 2009. But it is down on the figure of 80% seen in 2008.
Average price discounts being advertised were 45%, which is the same as last year, but is up on the 35% at the same point in 2009.
Randal Casson, partner at PwC, said: “The traditional game of chicken between retailers and consumers is hotting up as the number of shopping days to Christmas declines.
“The recent burst of wintry weather is an early Christmas present for retailers to help them move their seasonal and winter stock.
“On the flipside, the weather will probably be encouraging more online shopping and we’ll see lower high street footfall this week.
“However, as Christmas Day is on a Sunday, this is positive for retailers as it gives them that extra day after the majority of people have finished work.”