UK retail sales decline by record level in October 2017

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The latest numbers released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) regarding UK retail sales don’t make for heartening reading. Non-food retail sales have declined by the biggest degree since they started compiling figures on this basis since 2012.

In October 2017, UK retail sales decreased by 1.0% on a like-for-like basis from October 2016. Back then they had increased 1.7% from the preceding year. According to the BRC, on a total basis, sales rose 0.2% in October, against a growth of 2.4% in October 2016. This represents the lowest growth since May.

Over the three months to October 2017, In-store sales of Non-Food items declined 2.2% on a Total basis and 2.9% on a Like-for-like basis. On a 12-month basis, the total decline was 2.1%, the deepest since BRC records began in January 2012.

Helen Dickinson is the head of the BRC and explains some of the reasons and implications: “The decline was driven by the worst performance of non-food sales since our record began in January 2011, as consumers appear to have opted for outdoor experiences and excursions during half term, over visits to the shops. The growth in food sales meanwhile, adds some colour to this otherwise anaemic picture, but these figures are very much buoyed by inflation.

Real consumer spending power has been on a downward trend in the last year as the acceleration in inflation has caused shoppers to become ever more cautious in considering what purchases they can afford. Many now face higher borrowing costs, given the rise in interest rates, which will only serve to heap further pressure onto household finances.”

It’s no real surprise that the High Street and retail isn’t bouyant at the moment and there’s no real prospect that this will be changing any time soon. Brexit uncertainty is another player in these dismal figures.

The good news for online retailers is that the picture is rather more rosy and growing. So keep calm and carry on.



UK retail sales saw strong growth in May 2018

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