Dec. 27 - After an initial rush to the UK high street for the Boxing Day sales, only 0.5% more shoppers showed up than last year, final figures from retail data company Springboard show. Hayley Platt reports.
It's a familiar sight just after Christmas. Thousands of shoppers pouring into London stores in search of bargains. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED SHOPPER, SAYING: "When you can actually get to a counter you will find the bargains if anything's left, yes." (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED SHOPPER, SAYING: "Because of the bargains - I have actually come for the perfume and handbags." The Boxing Day sales have been a tradition in Britain for generations. But early figures show this year has been a disappointment. After an initial rush, the numbers remained flat compared to last year. One obvious reason is the popularity of online shopping. Analyst Experian, estimates 117 million visits were made to retail websites on Christmas day. Katharine Witty is from Harrods. SOUNDBITE: Katharine Witty, Harrods, spokesperson, saying (English): "Online is of course a challenge of course it is for any retail environment because you want to provide the customer with something special online and you also want to retain that special experience of coming into stores still, so it's always a balancing act." Overall Britain's economy is in good shape heading into 2014. And according to BNP Paribas David Tinsley retail sales are set to grow. SOUNDBITE: David Tinsley, Chief UK Economist, BNP Paribas, saying (English): "The anecdote from the retailers and some of the surveys in the run up to christmas and the consumer confidence numbers were a little bit on the weak side but part of that may just be coming of a very strong Q3 from retailing point of view and of course the weather has screwed things up a bit as we headed into Christmas so you may get more of a bounce in January." Department store John Lewis - regarded as the bellwether for British retailers - reported record sales in the run up to Christmas. It posts a trading update on January 2nd. But with so many discounts on offer eating into margins, the Boxing Day glow may quickly fade.