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Retail Round Up - Christmas edition

Retail gets ready for a make or break Christmas period

Retailers face a nail-biting final week’s trading as consumers hold off spending until the last minute. Supergroup boss Julian Dunkerton said “all is still to play for” and that people were buying later than last year. Clintons marketing director Tim Fairs said it was preparing for a last minute surge next week. Peak trading has also come later for etailers. Littlewoods owner Shop Direct boss Mark Newton-Jones said the group’s busiest week fell last week, seven days later than last year. He expects Christmas sales will be flat or “slightly up” on last year. As the tense wait for the Christmas shopping peak continues many retailers have resorted to slashing prices to woo consumers.

Waitrose weekly sales rise on demand for festive season drinks

Food retailer Waitrose has reported a 6.3% weekly sales rise, assisted by shoppers stocking up with drinks ahead of the Christmas holiday. Sales of gin jumped 17% in the period to December 10, when bottled beers were ahead 23% and cider up 36%. Wine sales though Waitrose Wine Direct rocketed 70% and party ordering business Waitrose Entertaining delivered a 42% rise in revenues. 

First British boss for Ikea UK and Ireland

The UK’s largest furniture retailer Ikea has appointed a new boss to replace Martin Hansson who is relocating to Shanghai to run its Asia Pacific region. Ian Duffy has been appointed Ikea UK and Ireland country manager, becoming the first British boss to lead the Swedish giant here. Duffy is at present Ikea Group’s regional retail manager, Asia Pacific – the same position that Hansson will take up in January.

AllSaints reaches out to UK bloggers to drive high-street sales

The fashion brand plans to drive its digital strategy using content and advocacy, expanding its roster of editorial partnerships in the UK by identifying key affiliates within the fashion industry and blogging sites. AllSaints will focus on nurturing partnerships with the “fashion-fanatic who blogs about their passion to a dedicated audience”.

Sainsbury’s loses heads of both marketing and brands

Sainsbury’s marketing plans have been thrown into disarray after it emerged that marketing director designate Mark Horgan is no longer joining and brand director Claire Harrison-Church is stepping down. The loss throws up questions as to how Sainsbury’s will maintain it’s position in its ongoing battle for customers with Tesco, Asda  and Morrisons.

John Lewis launches first iPhone app

John Lewis has launched a transactional iPhone app, as consumers increasingly turn to mobile devices for last minute gift searches and price comparison in-store. The app will give customers access to more than 200,000 products available on Johnlewis.com and includes a barcode scanner so that customers can access additional information about products when in store.

The Co-op  claims shock jump in Christmas electricals

The Co-op has reported a significant rise in sales of electrical goods compared to Christmas last year. Laptops and computer accessories are among the main driver of a 22% increase in like-for-like sales at The Co-operative Electrical in the run-up to Christmas. “The first two weeks of December are traditionally a bumper period for online shopping, but last week exceeded all expectations,” said James Holland, MD of electrical buying.

Free-range goose confit new at Sainsburys

Sainsbury’s has launched a goose confit in partnership with Gressingham Foods, targeted at those cooking a smaller Christmas dinner and looking for a quick meal. Gressingham Goose Confit (£5 for 340g) uses legs and thighs left over from Gressingham’s free-range crowns and cooks in 30 minutes. Sainsbury’s said it was “perfect for a small group for Christmas dinner or people looking for a quick meal.”

Record rewards for Nectar card holders

Nectar card holders will reap record rewards over the Christmas period, according to Sainsbury’s. Members of the UK’s largest loyalty card scheme will collectively benefit to the tune of £66m. The supermarket said an additional 200,000 shoppers had cashed in on Nectar points so far in 2011 compared to the whole of last year. It claimed three million shoppers would use Nectar points to help cover the cost of Christmas dinner.