Hotels and restaurants have been hit by a wave of cancellations as new coronavirus restrictions throw the country’s Christmas celebrations into doubt and raise the prospect of a fresh setback for the high street.
If new rules banning gatherings of more than six people remain in place over the festive season, analysts say, the absence of Christmas parties and big family get-togethers could cost retailers billions of pounds in lost clothing and food sales.
“I think that this could reduce retail spending by billions,” said independent retail analyst Richard Hyman. “Toys and presents will obviously be bought, but I think clothing sales will be hit.”
“Clothing retailers need the fillip that is triggered by going to parties and family gatherings, and that’s clearly going to be very significantly curtailed. Why bother [buying something new]?”
The festive season is when many retailers bank the lion’s share of their annual profits, and