Christmas Retail Figures Failed to Impress

| January 14, 2019

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The BRC’s members reported 0% year-on-year growth from last December, the worst performance since December 2008, as consumers fretted about Brexit and held off large purchases.But sales were actually worse than the flat figure implied. The BRC said that on a like-for-like basis, which strips out the impact of new stores, UK retail sales declined by 0.7% from December 2017.Retailers had been buoyed by strong sales over the summer, a surprising retail bonanza driven by good weather, weaker inflation, and modest wage growth. But those good spirits didn’t last through the holidays.“Squeezed consumers chose not to splash out this Christmas, with retail sales growth stalling for the first time in 28 months,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.“The worst December sales performance in 10 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.”A separate report from Barclaycard found that consumer spending grew 1.8% from December 2017 to December 2018, the lowest rate of growth seen since March 2016.The data shows that consumers “remain cautious amidst ongoing economic uncertainty,” said Esme Harwood, director at Barclaycard.

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