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Online sales help retailers make up for high street losses

10 January 2011 - 08:50 by Graham Miller

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Analysts expect that retailers who were hit by poor sales figures on the high street during the wintry weather conditions at the end of 2010, will see any ill effects balanced out by safe shopping online.

In the first week of January, many retailers were nervous with big name brands including Clinton Cards and HMV announcing that their profits would be hit because of the snow and ice, which kept many away from their brick and mortar outlets.

December became the chilliest ever seen and Next said that it had lost out on £22 million as a result of the drop in consumers out and about in the run up to Christmas.

However, not every retailer is going to be as damaged as industry grumblings might suggest, as research from analyst firm, BDO, has found total sales fell by just half a percent last month, while the British Retail Consortium has come to a similar conclusion, putting the drop at one per cent.

It is thought that retailers expected December sales to match those of 2009 and, as such, they will be willing to accept the tiny drop which has been seen as a result of impassable roads and inhospitable outdoor conditions.

Industry analyst Tony Shriet, says that there is more than just the snow to blame for declining sales at retailers such as HMV. He points to the growth of safe shopping online as offered by e-commerce firms like Amazon and the instant availability of downloadable music from iTunes, as being key factors in the decline of traditional high street retail giants.

Supermarkets, many of which had to cease taking online grocery orders in places across Scotland, benefitted from the snow in other ways, as people had to get all their shopping done in one place, allowing megastores to pick up the slack of other high street retailers.