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Christmas gloom and slow New Year for retailers says BRC

UK retailers saw a muted end to a tough year over the Christmas period, according to figures from the BRC-KPMG Sales Monitor. Total sales showed zero year-on-year growth, with like-for-like sales down by 0.7 per cent.

“Squeezed consumers chose not to splash out this Christmas with retail sales growth stalling for the first time in 28 months. The worst December sales performance in ten years means a challenging start to 2019 for retailers, with Business Rates set to rise once again this year, and the threat of a No-Deal Brexit looming ever larger,” says BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE.

Dickinson adds that retailers are facing up to a dramatically changing landscape, made more difficult by rising costs caused by government policies. “Retail makes up 5 per cent of the economy, yet pays 10 per cent of all business taxes and 25 per cent of all business rates. This is neither fair nor sustainable. The Government should urgently look into reforming the broken business rates system and champion the future of retail in the UK,” she says.

Retailers experienced little festive cheer this year, with total sales in December delivering zero growth on last year. This comes despite some retailers desperately attempting to generate sales through slashed pricing, which has seemingly not been enough to encourage shoppers,” says KPMG UK head of retail Paul Martin.

“The first months of 2019 will unlikely hold much improvement. As many retailers report their festive trading performance, the list of winners and losers will become clear, but winning means more than just improving sales. Retailers have to protect their margins in order to deliver a profitable festive season.”

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