UK Retail Sales Show ‘Biggest Decline On Record’ In May

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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UK Retail Sales Show ‘Biggest Decline On Record’ In May

British retail sales posted a decrease of 2.7% in May, the ‘biggest decline on record’ since sales began to be tracked, in January 1995, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

On a like-for-like basis, UK retail sales were down by 3.0%, compared to May 2018, when they increased by 2.8% on the preceding year.

Over the three months to May, food sales increased by 0.8% on a like-for-like basis, and by 1.9% on a total basis, while non-food sales declined by 2.7% on a total and like-for-like basis.

Risk Of Closures

“With the biggest decline in retail sales on record, the risk of further job losses and store closures will only increase,” commented Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium.

“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,” added Dickinson.


Amidst challenging retail conditions, Dickinson called on politicians to act to support the reinvention of Britain’s high streets.

“Business rates remain a barrier, preventing many retailers from investing in their physical space,” she said. “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.”

© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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