European retailers depressed despite Black Friday boost By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The shop’s advertisement is illuminated after 10 p.m. at the Kurfuerstendamm shopping street in Berlin, Germany, September 1, 2022. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo
By Maria Sheahan, Toby Sterling and Alvise Armellini
BERLIN/AMSTERDAM/MILAN (Reuters) – Europeans bought smartphones, Christmas decorations, sweaters and jewelery in a surge in shopping over the Black Friday weekend, although prospects for the season holidays remain gloomy, retailers said.
A survey of 400 businesses by German retailer association HDE showed just over half of retailers said they were still dissatisfied with sales last week, compared to around 30% who were satisfied.
Retailers across Europe fear the overall Christmas shopping season could be the worst in at least a decade as shoppers cut spending, hit by double-digit inflation and rising energy bills.
However, early indications suggest Black Friday has brought some relief.
“Business has clearly picked up this weekend,” HDE chief executive Stefan Genth said in a statement.
In the Netherlands, data from credit card transactions and online shops showed strong year-on-year growth for the week of Black Friday, although price inflation in the Netherlands of 15% played a role.
Data from International Card Services showed that the number of transactions in the Netherlands increased by 12% and spending increased by 30% for the week.
Major purchases such as electronics and furniture were rare. Spending was highest in department stores, for shoes and clothing, and for food and drink, ICS said.
Italian retailers offered a mixed picture.
Giulio Felloni, president of Federazione Moda Italia Confcommercio, a trade body for Italian fashion retailers, told Reuters that sales in the sector were down 10-15% from a year ago.
“Black Friday has lost some of its meaning for fashion retailers as it no longer takes place over a single day but spans a week or even a month. It still works for appliances, electronics, selling online,” Felloni said.
By contrast, Gabriel Meghnagi of the Milan chapter of Italian retailers’ association Confcommercio said last weekend’s sales were up “more than 10%” year-on-year as shoppers on average spent 150 to 160 euros each, reaching less than 200 euros for clothes.
HDE expects German retail sales to total more than 120 billion euros ($125 billion) in November and December, down 4% in real terms from the year-ago period.
Only 20% of respondents to the HDE survey say they are optimistic about sales by the end of the year.
“Christmas business is marked by the energy crisis. Retailers are feeling consumer uncertainty,” Genth said, with downtown retailers still feeling the impact of COVID-19.
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