Helen Dickinson, chief executive officer of BRC, has called on MPs to rally behind a plan of action to avoid no-deal Brexit as retail sales continue to fall. The uncertainty is fueling the slump in shopping as consumers are aware of the possibility of rising prices and less product variety in shops.
According to BRC-KPMG’s Retail Sales Monitor in-store sales declined 1.5% over the three months to March. Over the 12 months, total average in-store sales fell 2.1%. Some 29% of retail sales took place online last month. That’s up from 28.5%, compared to last year. Overall, total retail revenue dropped 0.5% on the year-on-year (YoY) rate.
Helen Dickinson put down the slump of in-store sales to the likelihood of no-deal Brexit. Retail sales slowed in March, said Helen, even when the Easter distortions were accounted for, as greater uncertainty caused people to hold off from splashing out. She said that it would be ordinary families who would suffer as a result of higher prices and less choice on the shelves.
Sue Richardson, retail director UK of KPMG said that March saw a truly disappointing end to the first quarter of 2019 for retailers. Not only did total sales fall 0.5 per cent compared to the same month last year, said Sue, but no further clarity around Brexit came to light, and shoppers continue to waiver.
While retailers are facing turbulent times, the agility remains the best defence against uncertainty. However, the question is how long can retailers sustain this level of uncertainty?