Retail has shown its biggest sales decline on record covering the four weeks from April 28th – May 25th, 2019.
Sales decreased by three percent compared to the same period last year, which had then increased by 2.8 percent from 2017, making it the steepest like-for-like decline since December 2008.
Over the three-months to May, Non-Food retail sales in the UK decreased by 1.1 percent both on a like-for-like and on a total basis. This is below the 12-month total average decrease of 0.4% percent, while food sales increased by 0.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis and 1.9 percent on a total basis.
All records exclude Easter distortions, caused by Easter falling in different months in subsequent years.
Discussing the findings, Helen Dickinson, chief executive, British retail Consortium, said: “With the biggest decline in retail sales on record, the risk of further job losses and store closures will only increase. While May 2018 offered almost unbroken sunshine, topped off by the run up to the World Cup and the marriage of Meghan and Harry, May 2019 delivered political and economic uncertainty. Food sales dropped for the first time since June 2016, with further declines in clothing, footwear and outdoor goods.
“With retail conditions the toughest they have been for a decade, politicians must act to support the successful reinvention of our high streets and local communities. Business rates remain a barrier, preventing many retailers from investing in their physical space. We have a broken tax system, which sees retailers paying vast sums of money regardless of whether they make a penny at the till, and yet the Government is failing to act. The legislation is falling behind the technological revolution.”
“April may have provided retailers with some light reprieve thanks to Easter, but May’s staggering fall of 3% like-for-like is a stark reminder of the industry’s ongoing issues, which for many require urgent attention, said Paul Martin, head of retail, KPMG.
“We are of course comparing this month’s growth against a stellar May in 2018, but even the 3-month average – which softens the monthly volatility – demonstrates that achieving growth in retail remains a real struggle.
“The bank holiday weekends have given rise to the added interest in furniture and homewares, as shoppers set about making home improvements. However, the weather did little to convince fashion-minded shoppers to refresh their seasonal wardrobes.
“The extremely low growth online is real cause for concern, especially with almost a third of all non-food sales today being made online. This trend has continued to manifest itself over the last year and requires real focus from the retail community.”