Don't be spooked, shoppers won't cancel Christmas. Those are the words of business services firm BDO
after less than exciting retail sales in November
. And, judging by the amount of money I've spent over the past few weeks, I'd say there's every reason to believe in BDO's prediction of a last-minute rush from shoppers.
Of course, after the year our industry has had, it is probably quite difficult to have faith in such forecasts but, as many a retailer has told me over the years: "You've got to be optimistic; otherwise you might as well give up."
And, if shoppers aren't being as forthcoming with those pennies as you would have liked, there are always things out there to help encourage some extra spend. Retail expert and champion of smaller, independent businesses, Clare Rayner is busy promoting her Celebrate an Independent Christmas
campaign this month, helping encourage customers to shop local over the festive season.
The campaign includes 'shopping crawls' with prizes and giveaways for consumers, an online directory of independent retailers in towns across the UK and other events - all supported by signage for retailers to display in their shop windows and 'thank you' cards for customers who choose to support the businesses in their local community.
It sounds like an exciting initiative doesn't it? But I was surprised that more people weren't aware of the campaign. After hearing recently that some of the businesses on my local high street are struggling, I contacted the local traders association about indie Christmas and found that they were completely unaware of the project.
I have seen first-hand the buzz that was created with events during Independent Retailer Month and on Independent's Day, and it was fantastic to see local traders coming together to create an atmosphere and shopping experience that passing shoppers couldn't resist.
There are campaigns, initiatives and new ideas out there, you just have to be proactive and find out more. And then I suppose it's about having that little bit of faith and getting involved. What's the worst that could happen?