Retail sales slumped in run up to Christmas: ONS
Written by Hannah McGrath
Retail sales were down one per cent in the crucial Christmas trading period compared to the previous quarter- marking the steepest decline since March 2017, according to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
All sectors except household goods stores and fuel saw a decline in the quantity bought between the third and fourth quarters of 2019, driven mainly by a one per cent drop in sales at non-food stores.
The quantity bought in December 2019 fell by 0.6 per cent when compared with the previous month; the fifth consecutive month of no growth. Online sales as a proportion of all retailing was 19 per cent in December 2019, compared with the 18.6 per cent reported in November 2019.
Amongst the hardest hit sectors, clothing experienced a strong declines both on the monthly basis, registering a two per cent drop and a 2. 3 per cent drop in the three months to December.
December saw the sixth consecutive month of no growth for clothing stores for on a quarterly basis.
Department stores continued their downward trend in December with a monthly decline of 1.8 per cent and a three-month on three-month decline of 0.3 per cent.
Julie Carlyle head of retail, UK&I at EY said: “The overall festive retail sales paint a bleak picture, but there is a glint of sunshine for the future outlook of consumer spending.
However, she added: “In this climate retailers cannot hold out for a potential pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Consumer spending and sentiment is not the only driver of success today. Within the gloom, retailers will thrive if they differentiate themselves with a brand that has a clear purpose, maintain the trust of the consumer, and are brave in looking beyond today to a strategic direction that is right for tomorrow.”