Bleak winter outlook for retailers facing a penny-pinching Christmas

From left, University of Portsmouth head of brand strategy and corporate communications Emma Fields, Portsmouth FC commercial director Anna Mitchell, university governor and former Portsmouth FC President David Willan, football club CEO Mark Catlin and university vice chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith

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A PORTSMOUTH corporate recovery specialist is warning that retailers will face a post-Christmas ‘bloodbath’ as customers rein in their spending.

Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, said consumers are spending less as rising unemployment and an uncertain economic future looms, which is causing ongoing problems on the high street.

She said: ‘It has long been the case that many retail businesses become insolvent after Christmas and meeting the December quarterly rent payment is always difficult and relies on solid Christmas trading.

‘But this year we could well see major high street names disappearing before Christmas even arrives.’

Other factors affecting high street retailers include the continued rise in online shopping, tighter credit terms from suppliers and the unpredictable British weather.

She added that local councils should be doing all they can to make it easy for people to park near high streets to encourage visits.

Mrs Palmer said: ‘Instead of the calm before the storm, clouds are already gathering above retailers’ heads.

‘The immediate signs are for little improvement; cut-price sales could start even earlier than normal this year.’