The improving view from Britain’s high streets should be highlighted this week with sales figures from the British Retail Consortium and updates from a number of chains.
Argos parent Home Retail group and pub chain JD Wetherspoon are among those that will be revealing the benefit of strong Christmas trading, and their outlook statements will give a clue as to how far growing consumer confidence is expected to take hold.
A recent survey by the CBI suggested that wet weather and flooding did not deter shoppers, at least during the first half of February, indicating that January’s drop in sales volumes was probably just a pause for breath.
• Japanese GDP – Japan’s economy is expected to show only modest growth despite the efforts of the country’s central bank to stimulate activity through a massive money-printing programme.
• Goals Soccer Centres – East Kilbride-based Goals had a quiet 2013 as it consolidated its position, so shareholders will be looking for evidence of a new expansion drive taking shape.
• Craneware – The Edinburgh-based software firm is expected to report profits growth of around 5 per cent for its financial first half.
• Mark Carney – The Bank of England governor will face MPs on the Treasury select committee to discuss the latest inflation report.
• Retail sales – Increasing confidence among British shoppers points to a further rise in the British Retail Consortium’s numbers
• French Connection – The fashion chain wll probably be sporting a sharp improvement in its bottom line after a better–than–expected Christmas sales performance thanks to turnaround efforts, but it will likely still be in red.
• Balance of trade – Britain’s trade gap is likely to have widened again after one–off factors drove it down in December.
• Prudential – Investors are hoping for a significant increase in the Pru’s full–year dividend, which is forecast to rise 12 per cent to 32.6p on the back of a similar jump in operating profits.
• Home Retail Group – Long–standing boss Terry Duddy will present his last set of results for the Argos and Homebase parent and is expected to bow out with a strong update following a good Christmas.
• Morrisons – A dismal year for the supermarket chain will be laid bare following a recent warning over its Christmas sales, while it also faces up to the threat of a full–scale price war among the “big four” players.
• RICS housing survey – Prices are seen rising modestly but steadily.
• JD Wetherspoon – Given his regular outpourings, founder and chairman Tim Martin is unlikely to resist the temptation to bend George Osborne’s ear about beer duty ahead of next week’s Budget when the pub chain reports interim results, despite strong Christmas sales growth.