‘Yorkshire’s Christmas shoppers brush off Brexit fears’

Yorkshire's shoppers aren't allowing Brexit to affect their plans for Christmas, according to PwC   Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Yorkshire's shoppers aren't allowing Brexit to affect their plans for Christmas, according to PwC Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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YORKSHIRE’S consumers are expected to spend less on Christmas presents than the national average this year, although they aren’t allowing the uncertainty caused by Brexit to influence their festive shopping plans, according to a new survey.

The study from PwC provides traditional retailers with reasons to be cheerful, at a time when they are facing increased competition from online rivals. It suggests that many consumers still like to shop on their local high street.

The average consumer in Yorkshire and the Humber is expected to spend £269 on Christmas gifts this year, which is slightly lower than the national average of £280, according to the PwC study.

The results also show that, while Christmas remains a priority for many consumers across the region, around three per cent expect to spend nothing at all on gifts this year.

Only 18 per cent of respondents expected the UK’s vote to leave the European Union to have any effect on how much they spend this Christmas, with the majority (75 per cent) expecting no impact at all.

Commenting on the survey results, Dan Stott, a partner and retail specialist at PwC in Yorkshire and the North East, said today: “The results of our survey bring good news for our local high streets this Christmas - despite the ongoing uncertainty caused by Brexit, price pressures driven by exchange rates and underlying commodity prices. These have not filtered through to consumers yet, with more than three quarters of shoppers saying it will have no impact on their Christmas spending.

“Although 46 per cent of money spent will be online, 49 per cent will still be spent on traditional in-store purchases.

“It’s also interesting to note that 58 per cent (of respondents) are hesitant of shopping too early and missing out on discounts and price cuts nearer Christmas - so retailers are still likely to see busy shops later on in the festive period.”

The survey results also showed that nearly a third (30 per cent) of shoppers would spend more if prices were reduced earlier, while 18 per cent would spend more if deals were offered earlier.

The survey also found that 58 per cent of respondents hesitated when buying gifts because they feel they may get a better deal in the pre-Christmas sales.

The growing popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shows that many shoppers are very active online, although this is not necessarily the case for all of the Christmas shopping season. Nearly half of the money allocated for presents and gifts will be spent in-store, the PwC survey found. Online shopping was split, with 33 per cent spent via laptops, 6 per cent via mobiles and 7 per cent via tablets.

PwC projects that UK growth will slow to around 1.2 per cent in 2017 due, in particular, to the drag on investment from increased political and economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote, but it doesn’t expect the UK to suffer a recession next year.

It does, however, expect inflation to rise to around 2.7 per cent by the end of 2017 as the effects of a weaker pound feed through to consumers, squeezing real spending power.

The report is based on the results of an online survey of 2,000 consumers across the UK aged 18 and over, of whom 166 lived in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The survey was conducted by Opinium in November.

Last month, Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned Britons not to be fooled by October’s drop in inflation. He warned that sharp rises in the cost of living are coming.

In a hearing with MPs on the Treasury Select Committee, Mr Carney cautioned that “inflation is going up” as the plunging pound will put pressure on retailers and manufacturers to raise their prices.

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