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UK Retailers Face Inflation Hangover After Blowout Christmas

LONDON—British consumers enjoyed a blowout Christmas, results from the country’s biggest retailers show, treating themselves to upmarket food, drink, and clothes before the sober reality of surging prices hits home in 2022. Retailers Tesco, Marks & Spencer, and Next performed better than expected in the final weeks of 2021, as a rise in COVID-19 cases left pubs and restaurants deserted, and consumers crowding supermarket aisles for tempura prawns, novelty bottles of gin, and turkeys. But they warned of pain to come as pressure built across their operations, from higher freight costs, wage hikes for warehouse workers, and more expensive raw materials. Retailers also saw no immediate relief from supply-chain disruption, with the online fast-fashion retailer ASOS flying in more of its stock from Asia, at greater cost, to guarantee delivery for Christmas. The trading updates give an early indication of how retailers globally may have fared during the festive season, …

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