Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has published strong half-year trading figures this week but despite a 20.3% rise in underlying pre-tax profit to September, it says that the outlook for Christmas is uncertain due to high street challenges.

The second largest supermarket chain in the country said both its core grocery and clothes sectors were faced with competitive and highly promotional environments, as consumers are more cautious and mindful of how they spend their money.

The chain said that it had benefited from cost synergies of its Argos takeover being completed sooner than expected

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One in five consumers have completed their Christmas shopping

The BBC reports that one in five British consumers have already completed their Christmas shopping – with some saying that they get started in the January sales each year.

Around 18% of Britons are ready to begin wrapping their gifts by the end of October according to a new survey – making us one of the most organised nations in Europe and equal to that of the USA.

11% of families begin to make Christmas purchases in September or earlier. While it might seem early to the two in five shoppers who wait until December rolls around, those getting a head start seem to be motivated to do so because it allows them to spread the cost as well as take advantage of flash sales, discount sites and voucher codes in order to make their money go further during the festive season.

In contrast, 2% of French shoppers say they expect to have the majority of their purchases done by September, 1% of those in the Netherlands, 5% of US shoppers and 6% of Canadians.

A third of Brits will start their shopping in November, prompted by the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events.

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Halfords says it expect short-term trading conditions to remain challenging

Halfords has experienced a 23% drop in half year profits and says it expects to report broadly flay full year profits amidst challenging trading conditions. The retailer says many shoppers are holding back on making purchases, meaning that its bike sales in particular have suffered, though they did rise 1%.

Its pre-tax profits were £28.2 million, with like-for-like retail sales up 2.3% and its auto activities up 3.3%.

The chief executive, Graham Stapleton said, “…we expect the short-term conditions to remain challenging given that cycling is a discretionary category and not immune to consumer uncertainty.”

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