British retail shows stuttering start to 2020

Christmas shopping

British retail sales showed a stuttering start to the New Year, BRC figures show.

On a total basis, sales increased by 0.4% in January, against an increase of 2.2% in January 2019.

This is above both the 3-month and 12-month average declines of 0.4% and 0.2% respectively and the 12-month average hit a new record low since our records began in 1995.

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In January, retail sales in the UK were flat on a Like-for-like basis from January 2019, when they had increased 1.8% from the preceding year.

Over the three-months to January, non-food retail sales in the UK decreased by 1.5% on a like-for-like and 1.3% on a Total basis.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “January saw a return to growth, however recent political uncertainty and a decade of austerity appear to have ingrained a more thrifty approach to shopping among consumers.”

Adding: “Furthermore, as sustainability continues to rise up the agenda, many customers are switching to more environmentally friendly products or simply choosing to buy less. These effects are not just limited to the high street as growth in online purchases also slowed.”

Dickinson continued: “Across the UK, retailers are facing tighter margins as a result of weak consumer demand and increasing costs, including sky high business rates. We need to see a commitment from Government to bring down the overall burden of business rates in its upcoming review.

“In the short term, a move in the Budget to address Transitional Relief, which has seen retailers subsidising other industries by almost £500m since 2017 would prevent further shops closing and save jobs.”

Last month, Access and Mobility Professional reported on how the British retail industry lost 57,000 workers over the last twelve months.

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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