Retail news round-up: Christmas spending, fast shopping, rich pickings and salaries

UK consumers are planning to spend an average of £1,551 over the festive shopping season – £51 more than last year, according to a survey of 2,000 adults conducted by American Express. It estimates that there will be a £76bn overall spend, with individuals parting with £51 more than last year. After Christmas getaways, the second-largest expense is expected to be on gifting with a typical spend of £341 by each person – up £25 from 2016.

However, research by HIS for Visa suggests that consumer spending over November-December is set to drop 0.1% in real terms compared with the same period last year, when it grew by 2.8%. It expects in-store high street sales to decline by 2.1%, the largest fall for five years.

Sheffield residents have Britain’s biggest Christmas wish lists, according to shopping website Trouva, with the average person in the city wanting £588 of gifts, compared with the £316 desired by the average Londoner.

Parents are being asked to delve deeper into their pockets with a trend to give extra gifts on Christmas Eve, The Times reported. Online retailers, inspired by Continental tradition, began selling specially designed boxes for treats and now John Lewis is “getting in on the act” with a £15 wooden chest tagged “‘Twas the night before Christmas”.

Intu Lakeside has installed a 200-metre fast lane which allows the quickest of Christmas shoppers to pass through the centre, picking up shopping at speed. New research for Masterpass has found that slow walking by others is a grievance for 84% of shoppers. The average walking speed is 2.85mph but this is set to decrease by 21% during the Christmas period as shoppers spend more time browsing, “resulting in a reduction in the number of gifts we’re able to purchase in one shopping trip by one and a half items”.

Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos has reportedly become the first person to make a $100 billion fortune, exceeding the figure after Black Friday sales optimism drove the company’s shares to a record high.

Job site Adzuna reports that average salaries in the retail sector have risen by 7.3% to £25,661 over the year, compared to an average salary decline of 1.7% to £32,174 in the wider jobs market.

Joh Howells, CEO of Link, the ATMs business, expects cash machines to disappear from the high street within a decade as payments with paper money plunge.

Data from UK Finance reveals that consumers withdrew money from their cash Isa accounts at the fastest rate on record in October, suggesting that rising prices are taking their toll on savings.

Retail sales picked up in the year to November following a significant dip in October, according to the latest CBI Quarterly Distributive Trades Survey. However, it also revealed the strongest growth in average selling prices in over 26 years to November.

A law that will phase out Sunday shopping by 2020 has been approved by Polish MPs despite critics claiming that it would negatively affect the country’s economy. Trade unions proposed the bill because they want shop workers to spend more time with their families.

Alan Monahan