Retail sales show ‘biggest decline on record’
Written by Peter Walker
Total UK retail sales decreased by 2.7 per cent in May, excluding Easter distortions, the worst decline since the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG began taking records in January 1995.
However, this was against an increase of 4.1 per cent in May 2018, itself a four year record.
Over the three months to May, in-store sales of non-food items declined 2.7 per cent on both a total and like-for-like basis, while food sales increased 0.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis and 1.9 per cent on a total basis.
Online sales of non-food products grew 1.5 per cent in May, an all-time low, against a growth of 11.5 per cent in May 2018.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson commented that with the biggest decline in retail sales on record, the risk of further job losses and store closures will only increase.
“With retail conditions the toughest they have been for a decade, politicians must act to support the successful reinvention of our high streets and local communities.
“We have a broken tax system, which sees retailers paying vast sums of money regardless of whether they make a penny at the till, and yet the government is failing to act – the legislation is falling behind the technological revolution,” she added.
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, explained: “The bank holiday weekends have given rise to the added interest in furniture and homewares, as shoppers set about making home improvements. However, the weather did little to convince fashion-minded shoppers to refresh their seasonal wardrobes.
“The extremely low growth online is real cause for concern, especially with almost a third of all non-food sales today being made online,” he continued, adding: “This trend has continued to manifest itself over the last year and requires real focus from the retail community.”