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Industry News August retail sales growth supports consumer optimism

Published on April 9th, 2019 | by The GC Team

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Brexit uncertainty continues to dampen retail sales

UK retail sales declined in March, marking a disappointing end to the first quarter of 2019 for retailers, and for the country at large, as the promise of an orderly exit from the EU on the 29th of the month failed to materialise, while proceedings moved beyond chaos into a very un-British, shameful farce played out in the House of Commons.  

According to the British Retail Consortium, like-for-like sales fell 1.1% year-on-year while total sales dropped by 0.5%.

Despite Mother’s Day falling during the month, BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said shoppers were generally cautious not to overspend, particularly on larger items.

“Brexit continues to feed the uncertainty among consumers,” Dickinson added, while Sue Richardson, Retail Director UK for KPMG, noted that no further clarity around Brexit came to light during March, and “shoppers continued to waver”.

Some categories received a welcome reprieve due to more favourable weather – especially when compared to the Beast from the East this time last year, according to Richardson. Other categories, however – mainly big-ticket items including furniture – remained overlooked.

Online sales performed better than the high street, but Richardson said the high proportion of sales occurring online nods towards the underlying issue of profit pressure.

“Retailers will be hoping for an end to this sustained uncertainty – it’s clearly not good for business – but times have already well and truly changed, and agility remains the best form of defence,” she commented.

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