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According to data from VoucherCodes, sales figures on 26 December — typically one of the biggest shopping days of the year — will total approximately £4 billion, down 10% on 2019’s $4.4 billion figure. This is assuming non-essential shops will not be told to close doors amid rising Omicron cases in the country. 

While the Government has confirmed that no new coronavirus restrictions will be brought in in England prior to Christmas day, it remains unclear what will happen after December 25, with prime minister Boris Johnson not yet ruling out the possibility of telling non-essential shops to close. 

Between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, a total of £13.9 billion is expected to be spent, down 9% on 2019. Online spending is set to reach £1.43 billion, a 25% increase compared with 2019 sales, but a 16% drop from Christmas 2020 when online sales hit £1.7 billion as much of the country was put under tough new “Tier 4” restrictions. 

If the UK is placed into a full lockdown come December 26, with non-essential shops told to close, then the research suggests that total sales on Boxing Day will drop 1% compared to 2020 and down 10% on 2019.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, founder of Punch Taverns Hugh Osmond said, “We are seeing that some of the people in large organisations who organise bigger events are taking the cautious view because I guess they feel some overriding responsibility. We are not seeing that in young people.”

Social interaction is, after food and water, the most important thing for a human being’s mental health.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was no need for people to cancel upcoming parties and gatherings. However, Johnson’s statement came just hours after the UK’s most senior health officials urged people to limit their social interactions. 

Christmas is a vital period for hospitality venues, with many relying on generating enough profit throughout the festive season to support them through the traditionally quieter months. The loss of two festive seasons in a row would have a detrimental impact on many businesses in the UK. 

In November, the Distributive Trades Survey by The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) climbed to a three-month high of 39, up from 30 in October. The survey looks at whether retailers think annual sales growth is rising or falling. Separately, another measure of sales rocketed from -1 to 35, the highest it's been since September 2015. 

Many shoppers in the UK have started their Christmas shopping early this year amid fears of shortages. In particular, clothing and department stores saw a substantial rise in sales volumes. 

The CBI’s survey of 125 companies, including 51 retailers, revealed that online sales were lower than a year ago when the UK was in its second lockdown and non-essential shops were forced to close their doors. 

However, the CBI expects internet sales to rise again as the festive season draws closer. This is despite the CBI also finding that UK shoppers currently face the largest price rises in over thirty years due to supply chain shortages and increasing raw material costs. 

This figure is up from the previous month, with the ONS saying it was 5.8% ahead of pre-pandemic levels in February 2020. It marks the first monthly increase for retail sales since April when non-essential businesses were allowed to reopen their doors after months of lockdown. 

Growth in retail sales was led by increased spending in non-food shops, such as sports equipment retailers and toy shops, with sales volumes up 4.2% 

Grant Fitzner, ONS chief economist, said: “After five months of no growth, retail sales picked up in October. Although sales overall are above pre-pandemic levels, it remains a mixed picture.”

Fitzner said that clothes retailers reached their highest level since the beginning of the pandemic, up 6.2% over the month. Some retailers said that early Christmas shopping had helped to bolster their sales, with reports of customers buying products for the festive period earlier than usual. The shift in seasonal spending behaviour is suspected to be attributed, in part, to concerns about shortages due to supply chain issues as well as in anticipation of larger gatherings compared with the restricted gatherings last December

There’s nothing like waking early on Christmas morning and rushing downstairs to open your online tax return...

It may not be your idea of a fun Christmas tradition, but if you use the extra time off over the festive period to get your tax return sorted, you can see in the New Year with a clear conscience and a paid bill – instead of the guilt pangs and nagging worry that hit the 5 million people who are still likely to be putting it off.

You don’t have to devote Christmas Day to it; there are endless less exciting days over the festive period, when a tax return may actually help break the monotony. You have to ask yourself whether you usually have a particularly memorable 28th December – and whether you’ll really be missing out if you spend a few hours with your tax return instead.

5 tricks to make your tax return simpler

  1. Check you can get into the system in advance

Before you do anything else, sign into the Government Gateway. If you’re doing it online for the first time, you’ll need to sign up, and wait up to seven days for your code to arrive. If you’ve used the system before, sign in now and check you haven’t forgotten your log in details.

  1. Spend some time on your preparations first

If you’re not great at filing, don’t try to do everything at once: day one should be about tracking down paperwork, and ordering copies of anything you can’t find.

This includes certificates for savings accounts or dividends, pension statements, proof of any employment income and a P11d. If you work for yourself, you’ll want bank statement, sales invoices, receipts for expenses and paying-in books. If you received income from letting property, you need letting agreements, and bills for expenses and management fees.

  1. Make sure you’re claiming for everything you can

Check that you’re claiming for all the reliefs and exemptions available to you. This includes pension tax relief and gift aid for higher rate taxpayers. Government figures show that only 22% of higher rate taxpayers claim the additional relief on gift aid they’re entitled to – but it can really add up.

If it seems like a lot of bother to claim for something, check if there’s a simpler option. If, for example, you are self-employed and work from home, you can do the calculations and count some of your household bills as expenses. Alternatively you can just use the flat rate of £10 a month for 25-50 hours a month, £18 for 51-100 hours, and £26 for 101 hours or more.

  1. If in doubt, get help

There’s loads of great information on the HMRC website, which has really improved in recent years. You can find the answer to almost any question that’s likely to crop up. There are also plenty of guides and videos offering tips to save you time and money.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, then other than on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, you can phone the self-assessment helpline. Unfortunately, the closer you get to the 31 January deadline, the busier the helplines get, so you could spend some time on hold. However, if you stick with it, you can get the guidance you need.

  1. If you’re going to need an accountant, get a move on

If you already know that nothing will persuade you to touch your tax return over Christmas, be honest with yourself about whether you’re going to need an accountant to sort it for you, and contact them before the break. Don’t leave it until January, when accountants are snowed under, and many won’t have the time to take new clients on. Professional help will typically cost between £100 and £300, so you’ll need to decide if it’s worth the expense.


Does this mean Santa’s business model is driven in its brand? If that is the case, and on the commonly agreed assumption that Christmas is a business in its entirety, what are the brand values that make Christmas so financially successful?

The truth is Santa and his gang can offer business leaders a great deal of know-how in the business world. Christmas is a tradition and a business that goes back at least 200 years, one which according to Forbes, accounts for over $1 trillion, or 25% of US annual retail income. As a corollary, Christmas also monopolises on retail data, as just like in Santa’s Grotto, we tell markets exactly what we like and want the most.

Starting with the business’ marketing, Father Christmas’ branding model is built on worldwide collaboration, in that everyone believes and trusts the brand, the promise of reward, in the form of gifts and celebration, and the use of emotive marketing, via songs, colours, smells, clichés and scenarios, all of which come together to stimulate feelings of family, community, togetherness, joy and nostalgia, among many.

The brand itself is the strongest driving part of Santa’s business model, and if anything could imitate the above formula as successfully, they would likely be the richest and most reputable company in the world. Brands that have tried and come close are the likes of McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Disney, yet these come with shortcomings, mistakes and elements that carry negative connotations, like sustainability, sourcing, sales and taxes. Not to mention their ability to stay as relevant and innovative as Christmas. With the Christmas brand as a whole however, being a collaboration of all businesses and consumers involved worldwide, these negative undertones are looked over and left mostly associated with what Christmas is about. When you think about Christmas you simply think about the good stuff.

The brand itself is the strongest driving part of Santa’s business model, and if anything could imitate the above formula as successfully, they would likely be the richest and most reputable company in the world.

In terms of the business operations, small to large firms around the world can learn several important pointers from Father Christmas. He treats his employees fairly, he has a diverse and equal workforce, each with an important role suited to their talents or features. Donner helps Santa navigate his delivery route, while Rudolph, lights the way with his ‘very shiny nose’. Santa himself, as the Director of his company, has a job that was tailor made for his likeness and character.

Assistant Professor Fang Ruolian of Management & Organisation at NUS Business School, said: “Santa’s enthusiasm is infectious and the reason why he has built such a loyal following over the years and across generations. He spends time getting to know his customers in his grotto, learning what they want for Christmas, and then goes the extra mile to see that their wishes are met; all the time accompanied by a jolly “ho, ho, ho!”

In doing this, Santa learns about his customer base, collects data on a regular basis, and actions operations and gifts based on said data. And as far as we can tell, Santa doesn’t share any customer personal data with third parties. In addition, every year Christmas happens is a new year, with new data, which in turn means growth and evolution, as Santa and his elves have to keep up with a changing market, adapting and innovating each Christmas. They work together and collaborate, each department preparing all year round to deliver an excellent service with impeccable timing and precision; his wishlist staff work closely with the customer service department to get the right gifts to the right people.

Every year Christmas happens is a new year, with new data, which in turn means growth and evolution, as Santa and his elves have to keep up with a changing market, adapting and innovating each Christmas.

On the topic of customer service, Christmas is built on several promises. That kids will get presents, that family will come together, that people can be good, that it will happen again next year, and the year after, and so on. Businesses around the globe have to keep these promises, accommodate logistics and operations to meet demand, and in doing so contribute to the overall success of the Christmas brand. Christmas breeds a likely 95%+ customer satisfaction rate and a customer retention rate that is just as successful. Can your business say the same?

All in all, Christmas is one of the most successful business models to have ever been conceived and all businesses should strive to imitate its values and methods. In terms of actually delivering gifts all in one night, there is a questionable logistics issue, but with everything else on the table, Santa’s workshop and staff make a winning business model possible. With the real-life Christmas period ahead of us, and as markets are set to action the Christmas spirit, we wish you good business and a happy new yield this quarter.


Long shop queues, busy high streets and a distinct lack of money can be tiresome and stressful. So, we’ve rounded up the top five Christmas shopping hacks to get you through:

  1. Know when to look for deals

To save a bit of money over the Christmas season, it’s important to know when to do your shopping. Lots of shops will have deals on over Christmas to encourage shoppers into stores so look out for deals in magazines, newspapers and on social media.

Black Friday is also a great time to do the bulk of your Christmas shopping. This year, Black Friday falls on the 23rd November but many shops will be offering deals for up to a week before. Find out what deals you could snatch here.

  1. Suggest Secret Santa

If you have lots of people to buy for; a big friendship group or a large family then you’ll understand the struggle of buying presents for everyone. But this is the year that you should suggest a Secret Santa with a price limit, it will save you shed loads of money. You can even organise your Secret Santa online on DrawNames!

  1. Stock up with on-the-go, filling foods

If you’re going to hit the high street, then make sure you’ve stocked up on filling, on-the-go foods to save you spending money and time on expensive high street food options. Lizi’s Breakfast Drinks  from Lizi’s Granola (Available in Sainsburys, RRP: £1.49) are the perfect on-the-go option as they’re full of protein and fibre to keep you going! If you’re after something slightly different, then Jake & Nayns’ Naansters (Available in Sainsbury’s, RRP: £2.00) are the perfect option. They are delicious naans stuffed with authentic curries that can be eaten cold and on the go.

  1. Buy late Christmas presents

If you’re not seeing someone until after Christmas then why not buy their present late? Prices are slashed on Boxing Day and it’s the perfect opportunity to buy lovely presents for half the price, or to stock up on presents for next year! If you want to get ahead of everyone else then check online on Christmas Day, most shops release their sale items then!

  1. Consider DIY presents

You don’t have to be an art and craft whizz to make a DIY present. DIY presents can be a great way to save money and still give personal and thoughtful gifts. You could simply buy a cheap frame and print off a friend’s favourite quote or saying to pop in the frame – easy! Check out this YouTube video for a bit of inspiration.

Don’t let a lack of finances get in the way of creating new and memorable experiences! There are lots of ways for you to reduce travelling costs without having to compromise on the quality of your trip.

Here are a few of the best ways you can cut travel costs this season and do more travelling without burning a hole in your wallet:

1. Shop Around for Cheap Flights

One of the most common reasons people say they can’t afford to travel is because the “flights are too expensive”. And yes, sometimes the price of flights are on the verge of extortion, but if you can’t find more affordable flights, it’s likely to be because you’re looking at all the wrong places.

You’ve got to shop around for cheap flights to find the best deals. Going straight to your favourite airline website and booking directly from it without even checking other sources is a rookie mistake. What you should be doing is comparing flight prices, so you can see the best deals on flights including things like recommended times to travel and possible discounts on returns etc.

2. Consider the Destination

If you want to experience as much of the world as possible, but you’re on a tight budget, you might want to avoid the “big spender” destinations such as Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Tokyo and so on. Expensive holiday destinations will make budgeting increasingly tricky, especially when you’re paying £100+ per night.

Instead, think about more affordable holiday destinations that offer just as much sunshine and excitement, but at a lower cost. A few of the most affordable destinations include Costa del Sol in Spain, Budapest in Hungary and Bali in Indonesia to name but a few.

3. Find Alternative Accommodation

Not everyone wants to compromise on quality when it comes to accommodation, and that’s okay. But if you’re looking to cut back on travel costs and don’t mind giving up a little bit of luxury, in exchange for somewhere to rest your head at night, you’ve got to consider cheaper accommodation.

First, you might want to check online for cheap hotels. You might get lucky and find something amazing and within your budget. But if you’re struggling, you can also stay in a hostel. Hostels offer lower prices, and many of them even include free breakfast, which is fantastic if you’re looking for a wallet-friendly alternative. If you’re a little more on the adventurous side, you might be open to camping or renting a caravan.

4. Cook your own Food

Are you a whizz in the kitchen? Save money by skipping the expensive restaurants and cooking your own food. If you’re travelling for a week or two, you might end up spending more than you anticipated on daily meals. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a nice dinner on holiday, but if you’re determined to cut back, you’ve got to cook for yourself!

You can even bring food with you and shop for groceries at the local supermarket. Cooking for yourself is slightly easier if you’re camping or renting an apartment with a group of friends. The cost of renting an apartment is usually cheaper than hotel prices and most come with their own kitchen, which is ideal if you feel like whipping up a Sunday roast dinner or making a stir-fry.

5. Avoid Taxis

Taxis are so expensive in foreign countries, and most people agree that they feel overcharged by taxi services for merely being a tourist. Always try to avoid using a taxi service when possible and opt for public transport instead. Or, you could get some exercise and walk to your destination or hire a bicycle. However, this will be more difficult if you’ve got a few suitcases to trail about. Buses and trains offer affordable means of transport, so make sure to take note of the schedule and make the most out of public transportation.

Mobile shopping in the UK, France and Germany accounted for 28% of online Christmas orders in 2016, according to CJ Affiliates, with the UK bringing in an even bigger proportion at 44%. And these figures are set to grow even more in the lead-up to the 2017 festive period.

According to Keiron Dalton, mobile banking expert from Aspect Software, with the Golden Quarter set to see another boom in mobile payments and complex transactions, the opportunities for fraudsters to make their move on the shopping public is higher than ever. Keiron, head of Aspect’s global digital identity division, also argues that fraud that relies heavily on social engineering and bypassing weak security processes, such as SIM Swap, is seeing an upward trend in the UK and other regions, including Africa. According to Keiron, fraudsters not only take advantage of the upswing in mobile payments activity, but the sentiment surrounding the holiday for a lot of people.

Keiron explained: “SIM Swap fraud occurs when a criminal registers an existing phone number of a victim on a new SIM card by impersonating the victim to the mobile phone provider. Once activated, a criminal will receive all the calls and SMS notifications sent to the victim’s mobile number and can deactivate the original SIM card in the process. Once in control, criminals are able to bypass SMS-based one-time-passcodes, and steal large amounts of money quickly. This often happens before the victim is even aware they have been targeted.”

“We are working closely with the GSMA, as well as with a number of big banks and leading mobile network operators in the UK and in the rest of Europe to build a collaborative effort to fight new types of fraud like SIM Swap, but consumer awareness of the crimes has stayed relatively out of the headlines. If your phone or SIM card has been compromised, there are a number of tell-tale signs to look out for before it gets too far,” Keiron said.

  1. Phishing messages and suspicious communications asking for information

SIM Swap fraud requires the hacker to have access to a victim’s bank details. These are often obtained through an email phishing attack, unsolicited communications asking for details, or by purchasing that information from online crime gangs. You should never respond to these types of communications or send your bank details on any platform that could be read by someone else. Your bank will never ask for this information so don’t be fooled by fraudsters imitating your bank. This leads to the initial opportunity to get account access or access to a duplicate SIM card; it also could provide criminals with the answers to personal security questions.

  1. Extended loss of signal

Once SIM Swap fraud has occurred, it is not instantly noticeable to the victim. Extended loss of signal is the initial sign that SIM Swap fraud has taken place, as the control has been switched to a new device. Contact your mobile network provider to check if it is a widely known issue, or isolated to your device.

  1. Floods of calls and messages

This is a tactic that runs parallel to the extended loss of signal. Criminals will send a flurry of nuisance calls and/or messages in an attempt to get victims to turn their phone off. If you’re suspicious, it’s vital that you don’t turn your phone off as this is used as a distraction to delay you noticing a loss of service when a SIM is swapped.

  1. Opening links on your phone

Whether the link is sent to a victim via a phishing message or is on an unknown website, mobile phone users should be cautious when opening links on their device, and delete anything suspicious immediately. Hackers can use links that contain application packages that, if installed, will give the people behind the malware administrator rights to the victim's device.

  1. Be aware of the source of any applications you download

Only download applications or make in-app purchases from approved sources or stores. To prevent suspicious applications from being installed, Android phone users can go to Settings/Security and turn the ‘Unknown Sources’ option off, which will stop the phone installing them from anywhere other than Google Play.

(Source: Aspect)

Last weekend, British shoppers were predicted to have spent almost £8bn on Black Friday sales – nearly four percent higher than last year. While this busy shopping period is certainly good for the British economy, it raises concerns about the opportunities for scammers and cyber criminals. Ross Brewer, VP and MD EMEA at LogRhythm, discusses for Finance Monthly below.

Indeed, all eyes have been on who – and there will be some – will fall victim to hackers’ increasingly persistent and clever tactics. Retailers are prime targets because of the confidential data they hold – whether it’s bank details, email addresses or personal information. There’s absolutely no doubt that cyber criminals will have tried to take advantage of the past week’s online sales peaks to access networks unnoticed or execute malware that has been sitting on the network for months. Retailers have a lot to prove when it comes to showing consumers that they are taking modern-day threats seriously.

As we only saw this week with Uber, it isn’t always a breach that makes headlines, it can be how it’s contained and disclosed. In such a competitive industry, retailers rely heavily on loyalty, which means reputation is key. They need to understand the true value of the data they hold and take the necessary steps to protect it.

Monitoring and detection is key

It’s hugely important that retailers are investing in tools that continuously monitors networks for any signs of a compromise. Indeed, online activity and network communications between components in the card processing chain need to be tightly controlled; a process that is specifically mandated by PCI-DSS. With time increasingly of the essence, it is also critical that, rather than simply scanning for threats and raising an alarm if something suspicious is identified, these systems are able to deliver actionable insight with supporting forensic data and contextually rich intelligence. Not only does this ensure that the right information is delivered at the right time, to the right people, but it guarantees that the appropriate context will be attached, significantly decreasing the amount of time it takes to detect and respond to threats.

Most retailers know by now that they cannot afford to take shortcuts when it comes to cyber security. With breaches now a case of when, not if, it’s essential that they are on high alert at all times – particularly during busy shopping periods. Despite growing concerns over the cyber threat, consumers are spending more and more money in store and online each year, but retailers cannot take this for granted. It only takes one data breach to damage a company’s reputation, hinder future sales and/or disrupt pending investments and deals.

The good news is that security intelligence has become so advanced that companies can now automatically detect a compromise as soon as it happens, enabling security teams to stop a cyberattack before any damage is done. With GDPR only a matter of months away, enterprise organisations and retailers are feeling the pressure to identify, mitigate and disclose an attack at the time that it happens. Only with rapid detection and response capabilities will retailers be able to take cyberattackers head on and protect their customers.

According to recent figures recorded by HIS Markit for Visa, the UK is to expect a 0.1% dip in spending this Christmas period, during the key shopping months of November and December.

Physical store spending is expected to drop 2.1% on the high streets, while in contrast, online sales are expected to rise 3.6%. Online spending for the same period will also account for a record share of the shopping spend, as for every £5 spent, £2 would account for online sales.

Over the past few years, shrinking figures for high streets shops in the Christmas period have been attributed to rising personal debts, interest rate rises, static or lower wages in the face of increasing inflation, and the current weak phase of the pound.

Rob Meakin, Managing Director at Loyalty Pro had this to say for Finance Monthly: “Consumer spending always fluctuates over the calendar year, but the news that Brits could spend less on Christmas for the first time since 2012 is a grim wake-up call for retailers as they approach their busiest and most profitable period. With consumer confidence already low, retailers will have to claw back the attention of their audience and change the overall sentiment that looks set to discourage shoppers by offering their customers rewards for their loyalty. Regular Christmas deals are no longer enough with rising prices and inflation set to impact customers’ appetite. Retailers, if they haven’t already, need to understand the ‘membership economy’; consumers want to feel part of an exclusive club and with fewer pounds to be spent, consumers will be looking at the best deals from the retailers that understand them best. Loyalty is under threat, but a personalised and reliable strategy will trump most other approaches.

“Putting personalisation at the heart of everything on offer will instantly add value to the customer experience. Loyalty schemes are another sure-fire way to extend the customer’s journey and build a long-standing relationship that encourages growth through periods of uncertainty. It’s also the exact reason why high-street vendors such as Boots and Sainsbury’s prosper during high-pressure peak periods; Boots constantly sends its customers exclusive offers tailored to their shopping habits, while Nectar points organically drive shoppers to the grocer. The one truth in all of this is that customers will not wait around for the best service, they will demand it. And a mix of personalised bargains and loyalty solutions could be the differentiator between a successful or unsuccessful Christmas.

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