Seasonal trade – the annual Xmas nightmare

Nov 16, 2013 by Mark Baines Category: Business

Love it or hate it, Christmas is the one time of the year that the whole economy depends upon consumption peaking.

It’s not just the retailers, or the e-tailers; it’s the whole of British industry – we all depend on it in one way or another. Manufacturing, services, utilities, leisure and tourism, even financial services; no-one is exempt from the financial influence based on a humble birth in a distant country 2,000 years ago.

Take retail and e-tail: last year it was valued at £64.9bn. Only a portion of that actually passes through the tills. The rest relates to the increased consumption of the population as a whole.

The implications for us all are enormous, and it’s not just financial. The cost, eventually born by the NHS, of all that indolence and overconsumption, can only be guessed at. The implications, in areas like housing are also huge: how many spare bedrooms, large capacity kitchens, restaurants and pubs are only properly used at Christmas time? How many families face friction and friends, reconciliation, at Christmas, with their associated effects on all the retailers and services listed above?

Easter only attracts £3.6bn by comparison. Christmas is like a giant stimulant pill taken every year – it has a vast impact and dramatically skews the values that we would otherwise ascribe to all areas of the economy.

Bah humbug. I’m off to the pub!

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