Now the leftovers are all curry and the tree is on the tip, it is time to digest the information from the retail sector over simply how merry a Christmas it actually was.
And it appears that evidently identical to Mr Scrooge, UK consumers had been persuaded to open their purses just a bit wider this 12 months.
So when you’re a kind of who splashed out on gin, indulged in a brand new jumper and pulled out all of the stops to your festive feast, you might be in good firm.
However how and the place was the festive cheer felt most? This is our have a look at the place the glass is half full and the place half empty as we head into 2017.
It isn’t more likely to be a dry January when you’re operating one of many UK’s supermarkets. They’ve excellent news to toast this week.
Tesco and Morrisons, which have each had a troublesome few years, have reported stronger gross sales. Tesco mentioned recent meals had been “particularly popular, outperforming the market”, including that there had been a 24% enhance in social gathering meals gross sales over Christmas, whereas Morrisons reported its strongest Christmas sales for seven years.
Even Sainsbury’s, which noticed a meagre 0.1% overall rise in sales, managed to beat analyst expectations of a zero.eight% fall.
Discounters Lidl and Aldi do not report their figures in fairly the identical approach – they don’t give like-for-like gross sales, which strip out the impact of latest retailer openings and are subsequently a greater comparability – however each reported double-digit will increase in Christmas gross sales, reflecting brisk enterprise.
It seems to be like we collectively loosened our belts at simply the correct time for the large meals retailers. “I assume the most important impression thus far is that meals retailers did higher than non-food in December,” says impartial retail analyst Nick Bubb.
In line with Kantar Worldpanel we spent almost half a billion pounds more within the remaining 12 weeks of 2016 in contrast with the 12 months earlier than (so no marvel we’re nonetheless ploughing by way of the chocolate biscuits and trying out stilton soup recipes).
However placing it into context, quite a lot of the great outcomes now are set in opposition to a backdrop of fairly weak performances the earlier 12 months.
“Total, meals had an okay finish of the 12 months and traded okay over the course of the 12 months however that was in opposition to very low comparitors,” says Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG.
Dressed to impress
It wasn’t simply the meals shops which have given the market trigger for cheer.
Early within the month Next had everyone spooked because it reported a drop in gross sales within the run-up to Christmas, however loads of different clothes retailers have reported robust outcomes.
M&S surprised the market with gross sales in its clothes and homeware division up 2.three% – properly above expectations for about zero.5% – whereas John Lewis, Debenhams, Ted Baker and on-line retailers Boohoo.com and Asos additionally reported gross sales progress.
Sturdy festive durations had been additionally seen at Primark, JD Sports activities and Superdry proprietor Supergroup, which noticed like-for-like gross sales up 15% over the Christmas interval.
“The largest loser is clearly Subsequent thus far. They’ve had a little bit of a shocker,” says Patrick O’Brien from Verdict Retail. Subsequent noticed gross sales of full-price objects fall zero.four% and warned of a “challenging” 2017.
“Subsequent [used to be] approach forward of the others with its on-line operation. However opponents have now caught up with that by way of on-line and assortment, with actually excessive progress in on-line specialists like Boohoo,” he says.
However other than that the actually stunning factor is how few unhealthy outcomes there have been. Partly that’s as a result of they began from a low base after the poor gross sales of 2015, and partly as a result of British customers merely held their nerve.
“Customers have understood that costs are going up and it has been a great time to purchase,” says Mr O’Brien.
Paul Martin, head of UK retail at KPMG, provides: “The British defied the temper music on the market and needed to exit and deal with themselves and rejoice Christmas. That is probably the most stunning factor in a world the place damaging information is simpler to come back by than optimistic.”
What’s in retailer in 2017?
But when 2016 ended on a optimistic observe, Paul Martin says retail is shifting right into a “good storm” in 2017.
He warns that round April to July the hedging positions retailers took in opposition to forex fluctuations will start to expire and the complete drive of the pound’s devaluation because the Brexit vote will begin to be felt by way of increased costs for imported items.
Multinationals will flex their muscle tissue slightly extra over pricing imported items for the UK market. And prices can be rising as enterprise charges are revalued and the minimal wage rises.
Inevitably, he says, retailers should have a look at what sort of value rises their clients can bear. “We expect will probably be 5% to eight%. However that may differ considerably throughout sectors – you will see that some circumstances the place will probably be 50%,” he warns.
Along with Subsequent, different retailers together with John Lewis and Sainsbury’s have warned concerning the unsure impression of a weaker pound.
The boss of vogue chain Ted Baker has vowed, nonetheless, that “there will not be any value will increase this 12 months”.
Chief govt Ray Kelvin instructed the Press Affiliation: “We had been hedged for 2 years and we now have one 12 months left on that. We’re a public firm, we do not gamble with issues like this, plus we even have an enormous greenback earnings.”
The consensus although, is that shopper spending can be squeezed this 12 months, and Rachel Lund, head of retail perception and analytics on the British Retail Consortium, says that can make it more durable for retailers to generate progress.
She additionally factors to the uncertainty round what buying and selling relationship the UK can have with the remainder of the world as soon as it leaves the EU.
“An announcement about that that does not appear beneficial might have an effect on confidence,” she says. However she provides that the temper amongst retailers is “not certainly one of doom and gloom, it is warning”.