UK shoppers will splash out £1bn more on Christmas than they did last year, despite the squeeze on consumer spending.

The total outlay on Christmas will reach £86.5bn, according to Verdict Research and analysts SAS, with sales of food up by 3.8% to £33.4bn.

In its report, How Britain will Shop for Christmas, Verdict said five million turkeys would be bought in the week running up to Christmas – most of them bought by men.

“UK retailers face one of the most challenging Christmases ever, as a combination of low consumer confidence and inflation is making shoppers question every purchase they make, even at a time when they want to celebrate,” said Verdict’s Maureen Hinton.

“All the growth in the market is inflation led and a repeat of last year’s bad weather would be disastrous for retailers who are already on very tight margins.”

She added:  “The data clearly shows that retailers ought to be actively targeting men, for whom Christmas is one of the big shopping windows. Consumers will cut back as they recover from Christmas spending and face increased utility bills and high unemployment. Retailers must build up enough cash and margin to support them through difficult trading until the next likely boost in spending, Easter.”

Read more
Turkey shoots up as suppliers struggle against grain prices (4 November 2011)
Food sales hold up but BRC warns of further retail woe (8 November 2011)