The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has launched a new “Shop early, Start wrapping, Enjoy Christmas” national campaign, urging British consumers to start their festive shopping early.
The UK’s retail body hopes the drive will help spread rising demand in what is traditionally the country’s busiest shopping period of the year.
With measures such as social distancing and tighter coronavirus rules in place across the country, shoppers are encouraged to “think of others” by “preventing” the usual retail rush common during Christmas.
It comes as Britain along with global countries is battling a second wave of COVID-19 infections, which saw prime minister Boris Johnson announce a new three-tier “traffic light system,” which imposes tighter local restrictions.
“Retailers are urging customers to begin shopping earlier to help make sure everyone — shoppers, store colleagues, warehouse workers and delivery drivers — has the space they need to stay safe and deliver the magic of Christmas,” BRC said.
Since the height of the nationwide lockdown, retailers invested millions to put in place additional safety and hygiene measures across stores and online operations.
In July, total UK retail sales continued to rebound more strongly than expected, after the first full month where the whole sector was allowed to re-open nationwide.
Official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the volume of retail sales rose 2% between June and July, when analysts had expected a 0.2% boost. Some analysts had expected sales to go into reverse.
The quantity and value of total sales also smashed through levels seen before lockdown, with both up 4.4% on February. They were also higher than levels seen a year earlier, and up by a quarter on levels seen at the height of lockdown, in Spring.
BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, said: “Whilst celebrations will no doubt be a little different this year, we know customers want to keep Christmas special.
“That’s why we’re encouraging people to shop early and prevent the last minute rush so their fellow customers and all the store colleagues, warehouse workers and delivery drivers working behind the scenes, have the space they need to stay safe and well.
“BRC’s September sales figures show signs some customers have already started a little earlier than usual, as spreading your Christmas shopping has many benefits in today’s climate - from safety to managing finances.
“However, we want more people to embrace the true Christmas spirit, think of others and ‘Shop Early, Start Wrapping’ and most of all Enjoy Christmas – however they are celebrating”
BRC’s campaign will be broadcast on national and local radio stations from Sunday 18 October and will run across national print and social channels through until early November.
Watch: UK retail sales surge past pre-crisis levels