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“Seasonal spending for the Autumn/Winter events continued to grow in 2019/20 and consumer confidence held up well going into the New Year. Growth was driven by Valentine’s Day, although spending was cut back for Back-to-School and Bonfire Night. Halloween continued to inch up in importance, and has real appeal for both children and adults. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 has significantly impacted consumer confidence and restrictions on and consumer concern toward gatherings will significantly impact spending on Autumn/Winter events in 2020/21.”

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“The department store sector in the UK continued to struggle throughout 2019 and the outbreak of COVID-19 came at a particularly difficult time. Many of the leading department stores were in the midst of reviewing store portfolios and making significant strategic changes in order to try to turn things around. For several years there have been question marks around the relevance of department stores on the high street – a broad range of goods can now be bought from online retailers, often conveniently and well-priced. Furthermore, the polarisation of the retail market will have hampered growth in mid-market department stores. Recovery after COVID-19 will certainly be difficult, but department stores must stand out from the crowd – focusing on the communities that they serve and upping the in-store experience.”

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