European retail adspend in the run-up to Christmas is looking flat or slightly down on last year, according to media buyers polled by the Wall Street Journal, but Germany and Britain seem to be bucking the trend.

December spend by Germany’s retailers is running around 5% to 7% higher than in 2001, according to Christof Baron, managing director of the Frankfurt office of MindShare.

The uplift follows a 12% surge in the sector’s spend in October, when total German adspend slipped 3%. Retailers’ enthusiasm for marketing is considered a desperate attempt to revive ailing sales and a reflection of the battle between discount and traditional operators.

However, they are not expected to maintain such outlay in the new year. “It's an exception – to compensate for their heavy losses in the first nine months,” added Baron, calling Christmas their “last chance”.

The retail sector has been far healthier in the UK, but heightened competition between the major operators is helping to push the sector’s ad budgets up by 5% for December. According to Steve Tindall, managing partner of MindShare Dialect UK, retail spend will increase from £94 million ($146m; €147m) in the same month last year to a projected £99m.

Christmas is a vital time of the year for retailers and their agencies. Retail adspend by European operators can be up to 50% higher in December than in a typical month.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff