Retailers prepare for Christmas

Amazon.co.uk’s fulfilment centre is well into a pre-Christmas recruitment drive. The onslaught of the Christmas shopping season will treble the size of Amazon’s workforce in 12 weeks to deal with up to 450,000 parcels dispatched on each of the busiest days in the festive season. “We are planning for very strong and sustainable expansion,” said Brian McBride, Amazon UK ‘s managing director.

However, fast growth produces growing pains – and online retailers are experiencing several, including concern about after-sales service, a high rate of product return, and pressure to make websites a more exciting experience for consumers. These issues, unless resolved, could cap the market share of internet retailing at about 10%, according to analysts. Nick Gladding at Verdict Research said: “By 2010, we might start to see online retailing growth slowing down. By that time, it should be up to about 7% of total retail sales, compared with just 3.1% this year.”

And whilst internet e-tailers are jazzing up their sites, UK department stores have unveiled their Christmas offering, from chocolate Santa Claus houses to luxury hampers and Christmas crackers. You may not have been thinking about your Christmas shopping per se, but with only 10 weeks to the holidays, retailers will be fighting for your sterling. And whilst the west-end gears up for Christmas, it is the switching on of the Oxford Street lights that quintessentially marks the season. This year Selfridges is the host store, and the newly reunited All Saints band will do the honours on 9 November.

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