Image: © Cristiano Betta via Flickr

British shops sold less Christmas stuff than they have for ten years

Shops didn’t sell as much stuff as normal, leading to their lowest sales figures since the financial crisis kicked off in 2008.

What it means: If, like us, your December credit card statement has reduced your January plans to ‘stay in and live off cold beans’ you might find it hard to believe that big retailers are grumbling about how little Brits spent on Christmas this year. But apparently we all splashed out 0.7 percent less than we did for Xmas ‘07. That might not sound like loads, but it adds up to a difference of millions of pounds.

Retailers say that they’re also making less profit because business rates have gone up and because they’re having to invest money into trying to avoid the worst consequences of a no-deal Brexit. They’re worried about whether they’re going to keep making enough money to operate: John Lewis has already said it might pull its staff bonus for 2019.

But why are Brits spending less in shops? Could it be that people have just got fed up with buying stuff? Maybe: criticisms of things like ‘fast fashion’ (buying a lot of cheap, short-lasting clothes) has been in the news a lot lately, and concern for the environmental impact of buying lots of stuff is growing.

But the British Retail Consortium thinks it’s more likely to be “economic uncertainty”, aka that people are worried that they’re about to be hit with a lot of unexpected costs and need to save their cash for that. Tbf, you can’t really blame them: Brexit is looming despite no deal being sorted out. Even the pro-Brexit government thinks that’s going to make us all poorer.

Read our explainer on why we buy stuff.

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