In Brief

‘Worst Christmas in a decade’ for high-street shops

Newly released figures show like-for-like sales fell by 0.7% from previous December

High Street - WD

Retail sales in the UK showed no year-on-year growth at all over December, in what has been labelled the worst Christmas for the British high street since 2008.

According to a report by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and auditing firm KPMG, total retail sales were flat during the festive season, while like-for-like sales fell by 0.7% from December 2017, as shoppers “reined in spending and shifted to budget retailers”, The Independent reports. 

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said that despite considerable price cuts in stores, sales figures show that consumers “chose not to splash out this Christmas”.

“The worst December sales performance in ten years means a challenging start to 2019 for retailers, with business rates set to rise once again this year, and the threat of a no-deal Brexit looming ever larger,” she said.

“Retailers are facing up to this challenge but are having to wrestle with mounting costs from a succession of government policies - from the apprenticeship levy, to higher wage costs, to rising business rates.”

There was some good news, however. Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said that while retailers experienced “little festive cheer this year”, the food sector ”did provide a glimmer of hope, being among the few categories to notice an uptick” in spending.

But in a continuation of the doom and gloom, a separate study published by Barclaycard found that consumer spending grew by just 1.8% year-on-year in December - the lowest rate of growth seen since March 2016, the BBC reports.

Barclaycard director Esme Harwood said this modest growth “represents a decline in real terms”, adding that consumers “remain cautious amidst ongoing economic uncertainty”.

High-street retailers are still reeling from a disastrous 2018. A total of 2,692 shops disappeared from Britain’s top 500 high streets in the first six months of the year - a rate of around 14 a day.

Richard Lim, of consultancy Retail Economics, said the BRC’s figures “are worse than we’d feared and hammer home the message that all is not well on our high streets”, reports HuffPost.

Lim blamed “the ongoing shift towards online shopping” and an “extraordinary level of discounting in the run-up to Christmas” for eroding profit margins over the traditionally lucrative festive period.

“Inevitably, this will have left many retailers in a more precarious financial situation heading into 2019,” he said.

Recommended

How close is the UK to using delivery drones?
A flying drone
The latest on . . .

How close is the UK to using delivery drones?

Phone users hang up landline in favour of mobile and video
Landline phone by Joshep Coronel/PxHere
Business Briefing

Phone users hang up landline in favour of mobile and video

‘Costa Bravo’
Today's newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘Costa Bravo’

Could the term ‘global weirding’ help people?
Pollution in the Peak District, Derbyshire
Instant Opinion

Could the term ‘global weirding’ help people?

Popular articles

What is Donald Trump doing now?
Donald Trump
In Depth

What is Donald Trump doing now?

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 April 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 April 2021

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?
Night Tube Sadiq Khan
In Depth

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?