Hard up shoppers hold off Christmas spending spree

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ASDA said sales are up to six per cent behind where they were this time last year as cash-strapped shoppers hold off buying for Christmas in the hope that prices will come down in the fortnight before December 25.

The Leeds-based grocer said Christmas is “later than ever” as shoppers hold back in the hope of picking up a last minute bargain.

Asda’s marketing director Steve Smith said the group’s sales are two to six per cent behind where they were this time last year.

Asda has a system that measures customers’ intention to purchase against completion of the purchase.

As of yesterday 35 per cent of customers who intend to buy Christmas trees and decorations had made their purchase. The group saw an increase from 20 per cent to 35 per cent over the past week.

Gifts for kids is seen as a key area that cannot be left to chance and 60 per cent of purchases have been made.

This compares with 53 per cent completion of gifts for adults, showing that parents are happy to take more risks when buying presents for other adults.

The lowest area of completion is food with just 17 to 20 per cent of shopping completed, but this is expected to pick up over the next week as festive produce with sell by dates of 2014 hit the stores.

“Customers are hoping for price cuts,” said Mr Smith. “There is all to play for this Christmas.

“We have a constant flow of good deals, which started on Black Friday.”

Black Friday is the latest sales craze to be imported from the US and takes place the day after Thanksgiving.

It traditionally marks the start of Christmas shopping for Americans and has a similar status to Boxing Day sales in the UK.

Asda said its first ever UK “Black Friday” promotion was “phenomenal” and it is planning increased security to prevent fights from breaking out next year.

The Leeds-based grocer said the US tradition of slashing prices on the day after Thanksgiving stuck a chord with shoppers who were keen to snap up a bargain ahead of Christmas rather than in the Boxing Day sales.

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