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Comment on the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Distributive Trades Survey for November 2009,

"Christmas is in full swing on the high street, and retailers have their sights set firmly on bringing customers in-store to spend early with many opting to advance their seasonal sales or for flash discounting. Sales as a result are looking more healthy and retailers will be encouraged by rises in clothing and household goods sales. There is a continued positivity in sales figures in early November echoing those of September and October.

"Variable weather and spending habits have also had an effect on current sales performance. Over the last month anecdotal evidence has pointed to increases in weekend shopping, as well as consumer trends towards more self-indulgent Christmas spending on food and drink rather than gifts. The colder, wetter weather we are now experiencing in particular is likely to boost sales of clothing and other winter essentials, as shoppers finally prepare for the changing season.

"Carefully considering the New Year's forthcoming VAT increase, Christmas shoppers may be looking to purchase big-ticket items for themselves as well as the traditional items on their gift lists. Retailers have had all year to prepare for the return of VAT to at least 17.5%, with stocks now under much tighter control and their eyes fixed on margin management, the increase will come as less of a shock to the system than the sudden rate cut last year."