Finding it hard to trust upbeat festive forecasts

Ian Middleton has now closed Argenteus flagship Oxford store, with plans to focus on department store retail spaces.

Argenteus director Ian Middleton gives his musings on Christmas 2010.

By Ian Middleton, director, Argenteus

I’m having a hard time believing that either the Verdict or the Twenga assessments of a buoyant Christmas are anything more than wishful thinking.

Whilst I’m not expecting things to be any worse than last year a shift such as 1.9 percent could almost be described as marginal, not exactly epiphanic is it?

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Trade has held up well for us overall. We’re bobbing around in the usual pre-Christmas doldrums at the moment, waiting for the storm to break, as it always does. You can just never predict when these days.

I think things were a bit further ahead last year but with the spending review on everyone’s minds and TV sets over the past week or so I think there’s been a lot of people keeping their powder dry until things were a little more certain either way. The cold weather in the last week hasn’t helped either.

There’s probably going to be an increase in online again this Christmas, but that’s more a factor of the market maturing as it continues to scavenge sales from the high street. The imminent rise in VAT will inevitably have an impact but I think that’s more likely to dampen the January sales fever, rather than actually ramp up spending prior to the big day.

It’s still too early to call though, especially after the news of sweeping redundancies starts to sink in. We’ll either be looking at a last hurrah or a carry on regardless scenario as we did after the initial panic following the bite of the credit crunch.

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