By Marcus Leach

With increasing unemployment, low consumer confidence and rising living costs, Christmas 2011 is proving challenging for retailers. This is reflected in the high level of discounting there has already been on the high street.

However, according to research carried out by Verdict Research, despite low consumer confidence and squeezed disposable incomes, a high proportion of shoppers are intending to spend the same or more as compared with last year.

Verdict Research are currently running a five wave survey on Christmas spending which is being carried out online with a representative sample size of 2,000 UK consumers per wave. The following data is based on results from the second wave which went to field during 28th November — 4th December 2011.

“Data from our survey shows that a large number of people feel financially worse-off than they did a year ago,” says Carly Syme, Research Analyst at Verdict Research.

“When asked about their current financial position compared with last year, 56.1% stated that they feel financially worse off, compared to just 14.5% stating that they felt better off.

“However the majority of consumers intend to spend more, or the same as last year,” continues Carly. “Despite the uncertain economic outlook, 42.4% of consumers say they will spend the same as last year while 21.0% intend to spend more — unwilling to sacrifice over the Christmas period.

“Our data shows this is more true for spending on gifts than food and drink — the average spend on books as gifts will be £25.77, up on £22.55 last year while the average spend on Clothing & accessories will be £54.82, also up from last year’s average spend of £54.47.”

According to Verdict, despite inflation pushing food prices up, spend in this area is expected to be slightly less this year due to consumers making more considered purchases and seeking out deals and promotions.

Average spend on food & non-alcoholic drinks over the Christmas period in 2011 is expected to be £79.45, down from £80.82 on last year. However, spend on alcoholic drinks will be £54.82, slightly up on last year (£54.18).

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