Retail sales in the UK have dropped at the fastest pace in the year to June since the financial crisis of 2009, a new study by the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) has revealed.
Cooler weather during the period, compared with the same period last year, is believed to be a factor behind the decline in sales.
According to the CEO of Savvy, Catherine Shuttleworth, “The continued fall in consumer confidence is impacting retailers outside of critical categories like food and drink. Last year’s sunshine and feel-good factor as England enjoyed a strong World Cup run – plus a more positive attitude towards some kind thoughts of hope that a Brexit deal would be completed – meant that we were spending more.
“In marked contrast, this summer’s gloomy weather, gloomy attitude towards Brexit, and general malaise is certainly slowing our spending right up,” Shuttleworth added.
The study, which surveyed 88 firms comprising 45 retailers, found sales for the period to be below average.
Grocers were found to be the largest contributors to the decline, in sales volumes, within the retail sector.
According to the study, 16% of retailers opined that sales volumes were up in June a year ago, while 58% said that they were down, resulting in a weighted balance of -42%.
The hardware & DIY and footwear & leather subsectors also reported a drop in sales.
E-commerce was the only sector to witness growth in sales in June, according to the study.
However, for the year to June, online retail sales remained flat, making it the weakest period of growth for the channel since its inclusion in the survey, in 2009.
A ‘Challenging’ Situation
The principal economist at CBI, Alpesh Paleja, said, “This month’s drop in sales should be taken with a pinch of salt, given the backdrop of last June’s heatwave and the start of the World Cup, but even accounting for both factors, underlying conditions on the high street remain challenging. Retailers are having to continually compete for the attention of value-conscious shoppers, in the age of digital disruption.
“The new Prime Minister must help support retailers by reducing the high cumulative burden of costs they face. This should start by urgently reviewing the dire business rates system, which is unfairly impacting UK high streets and deterring much needed investment,” Paleja added.
The study also found that 16% of respondents expect sales volumes to increase in July, while 27% expect a decline.
Among those surveyed, 15% of the retailers reported that they placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, while 48% placed fewer orders.
Thirty-one per cent (31%) of wholesalers reported that their year-on-year sales volume was up in June, while 22% felt otherwise.
The CBI also highlighted in its report that it expects the UK to return to a subdued growth path further ahead, despite risks from Brexit uncertainty and global trade tensions.
© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.