The Strategist

BRC: British retailers had the worst Christmas in the past 10 years

01/10/2019 - 13:40

Retailers in the UK experienced their worst Christmas in the past 10 years, as sales suffered from Brexit fears and a sharp decline in consumer confidence, reports The Guardian.

Total sales growth in December slowed to zero for the first time since 2008, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Sales declined in all categories except food. Comparable retail sales, which exclude impact of new stores, fell by 0.7% compared with a growth of 0.6% in December 2017.

In October-December, comparable sales of foodstuffs increased by 0.6%; in general, sales grew by 1.8%. However, even this increase was modest compared with the average trend of growth in food sales in annual terms at a rate of about 3%.

BRC notes that the past year was difficult for retailers. Thousands of stores closed, tens of thousands of jobs were cut across the industry.

"The worst sales figures for 10 years in December mean a difficult start to 2019 for retailers, while the tax burden on business will increase again this year, and the threat of Brexit without a deal is growing, too," said BRC CEO Helen Dickinson.

"The UK retail landscape is changing dramatically, while trading conditions remain tough," she added.

Institute of Directors (IoD) said in December that business leaders' confidence in the British economy fell to its lowest level in more than 18 months, as risks associated with Brexit increased.

The organization, which represents directors of companies and high-ranking managers, reported that its trust indicator went positive earlier in 2018, when an agreement on a transition period after Brexit was reached. However, it has declined since April and reached a minimum last month.

British consumer confidence in the country's economy in December decreased by 1 point compared to the previous month to minus 14 points, as shown by research firm GfK NOP Ltd. The indicator value reached a minimum since July 2013.