Dec. 4 - Retailers are in a ''state of nervousness'' as new figures suggest shoppers are holding off on Christmas purchases in the hope of bargains in the coming weeks. Hayley Platt reports.
It may be the season to be jolly but apart from the prospect of royal babies Christmas cheer is in short supply in the UK. Latest figures from the British Retail Consortium show a rise of just 0.4 percent in like-for-like sales for November. Better than last year's 1.6 percent fall but hardly the stampede many had hoped for. Panmure Gordon's Jean Roche. SOUNDBITE: Jean Roche, Panmure Gordon, retail analyst, saying (English): "You've got to offer some sort of bargain and the BRC data is showing that the UK customer wants their bargain, they want to spend a bit less but they still want to go shopping, which is a good thing." Non-food items faired better - rising 0.7 percent. With online spending up 7.5 percent But the year overall hasn't been kind to retailers. Many have resorted to desperate offers to attract customers cutting the price of some clothes to just a few pounds. One on-line retailer even sold a party dress for just 99p. It lost money of course but the publicity it created was worth it. Bryan Roberts from Kantar Retail says disposable fashion can make money. SOUNDBITE: Bryan Roberts, Kantar Retail, saying (English): "It's clearly not going to be a sustainable business model in the longer term. But I think the whole issue of disposable fashion is here to stay as people try to assemble entire outfits, investing at the top of the market and at the very end of the market." After a Diamond Jubilee and Olympics boost in the summer there is hope the UK may bask in a little glow following news of Kate Middleton's pregnancy. SOUNDBITE: Jean Roche, Panmure Gordon, retail analyst, saying (English): "You might see certain maternity specialists doing better or kids wear selling better like Marks & Spencers." But the data - combined with a fall in construction activity - suggests Britain's economic recovery remains precarious. That's not good news for a government preparing its budget statement. The Finance Minister has already admitted closing the budget gap will take longer than expected.