European retailers brace for joyless Xmas

STORY: European retailers have endured a few tough Christmas seasons.

This year could be worse.

Inflation and rate rises are squeezing household spending power - and increasing the cost of doing business.

In Germany the HDE retail association is forecasting the worst slump in Christmas sales since 2007.

They’re seen down 4% on the year over the crucial November to December period.

In the UK, a raft of surveys show a half or more of Britons plan to cut festive spending.

Some data indicate it could be the worst year since comparable records began in 1989.

Several major retailers there, including Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s, have said shoppers are buying seasonal goods early in a bid to spread the costs.

In Spain, one industry association said retailers were doing what they could.

77% are reducing margins or boosting efficiency in a bid to keep prices stable.

Meanwhile, 68% of Italians plan to cut back on purchases between now and the end of the year.

That’s according to an October survey.

And the new year may not bring any relief.

Economists say next year could be even tougher for retailers as inflation stays high and households exhaust savings they built up during the global health crisis.