Worst Christmas for retailers in a decade, says BRC

Retail sales were flat in December, as UK businesses experienced their worst Christmas in a decade, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Total retail sales showed 0% year-on-year growth during the month, the worst December performance since 2008.

The BRC said price cuts appeared not to have been enough to encourage shoppers.

A separate report from Barclaycard said consumer spending grew 1.8% year-on-year in December, the lowest rate of growth seen since March 2016.

Esme Harwood, director at Barclaycard, said: « Growth in consumer spending dropped to its lowest level since 2016 and represents a decline in real terms. »

She added that consumers « remain cautious amidst ongoing economic uncertainty ».

‘Mounting costs’

Meanwhile, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: « Squeezed consumers chose not to splash out this Christmas, with retail sales growth stalling for the first time in 28 months.

« The worst December sales performance in 10 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. »

The BRC said that on a like-for-like basis, UK retail sales decreased by 0.7% from December 2017.

Ms Dickinson said the retail landscape was « changing dramatically » in the UK, while the trading environment remained tough.

She added: « 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. »

And Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said retail sales had stagnated despite some retailers’ best efforts to generate sales through price cuts.

« Growth in food did provide a glimmer of hope, being among the few categories to notice an uptick, » he added.

« However, the continued contrast in performance between the High Street and online remained evident in December – albeit 2018 did also see a continued slowdown in online retail sales. »

Source: BBC

Related posts