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UK Retailers: The Winners & Losers of Christmas 2017

By Vivian Hendriksz

12 Feb 2018

Retail |REPORT

London - The holiday season is traditionally a key moment retailers look forward to help drive sales and provide a festive boost to their end of year results. However, with increasing pressure on household budgets and waning consumer confidence, which UK retailers successfully managed to hit their Christmas targets this year and win over consumer spend? GlobalData shares its take on the UK Christmas retailers winners and losers for 2017.

Christmas Winners: Asos, Boohoo.com and Quiz

When it comes to online shopping, no other pure player does it quite like Asos. The British fashion etailer reported stellar Christmas trading results, with sales growing 30 percent during the last quarter of the year as consumers were drawn in by its wide product range, and swift delivery services. However other online retailers, such as Boohoo.com and Quiz also delivered standout performances this Christmas. All three online retailers used the power of social media to reach out to their target audience, with effective results.

Boohoo.com saw revenues increase 25 percent for the four months which ended December 31, 2017 and record sales across all its brands for the Christmas trading season, while Quiz saw a strong performance over the Christmas period, in line with its expectations for the quarter. “With a clear understanding of their target customers and ability to capitalise on demand for stylish, trend-led products and demand for convenient delivery options, it is unsurprising that these retailers performed so well,” commented Sarah Johns, Retail Analyst at GlobalData in a statement.

Christmas Losers: House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Mothercare

In contrast to the strong Christmas trading results seen by pure players, UK department stores general underperformed this Christmas season. In particular, traditional mid market department stores House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer reported disappointing trading results, with the former reporting a 2.9 percent decline in Christmas sales and the latter a 2.3 percent decline in clothing and home sales in the UK to December 30, 2017.

Rival Debenhams did not fare much better, having somewhat failed to excite consumers and differentiate itself from its peers on the high street. Like-for-like sales dropped 1.3 percent during the key Christmas trading period, as Debenhams tactical promotional campaign failed to attract sufficient attention. ‘‘What is certain is that investing in multichannel is vital to long-term survival as shopper reluctance to visit department stores takes its toll and shoppers increasingly turn to buying online,” added Johns.

However, it was not just department stores that had it tough this Christmas, as a 7.2 percent and 6.9 percent drop in like-for-like and online sales at Mothercare made it one of the worst performing players in retail this Christmas. ‘‘While Mothercare was not alone in reporting negative online sales (House of Fraser’s was down 7.5 percent), it is disappointing that e-commerce sales fell so sharply when growth in online retail spending grew 7.6% in 2017 and so many other retailers reported double-digit growth in this channel.’’

Photo 1: by Cristiano Betta, via Flickr, (CC BY 2.0)

Photo 2: by Simeon87 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons