In a statement issued on Sunday, supermarket Waitrose announced it has recorded its best ever Christmas sales despite inclement weather and freezing temperatures.
Strong demand for luxury goods as well as simple staple items such as long life milk helped it report 5.4% higher sales over same period, last year.
Waitrose seems to be an exception since most retailers reported lower sales because of coldest Christmas reported in decades. The situation has been further worsened by mounting government job losses and a high level of unemployment, a looming credit crisis for the last couple months and low consumer confidence.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride at times with big day-to-day variations in sales as customers have either stocked up ahead of the snow or caught up with their shopping when the freezing weather eased”, said Mark Price – Managing Director of Waitrose. The supermarket chain employs more than 43,000 staff and operates 241 stores all over the UK.
Market analytics company Synovate said that between December 22 and 24, UK shopper numbers were down by 6.1 percent in 2010 over the same period, last year. Synovate says the final figure for December may be more than the estimated 4.2 percent decline over last year it had projected before.
Retailers have already spent big on attracting shoppers with huge discount advertisements in national print and electronic media. They are hoping that shoppers will flock before the higher VAT regime of 20% comes into effect from January 4, 2011 from the current 17.5%.