British shops suffered a fall in last month’s sales for the sixth straight year, hurt by brittle consumer confidence and the ongoing shift to buying online, a survey showed yesterday.
Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO said its monthly High Street Sales Tracker showed in-store high street sales fell by 1.9 percent year-on-year last month — an 11th consecutive month of decline.
Online sales grew 11.9 percent last month, BDO said.
“As retailers suffered the worst year for well over a decade for in-store sales, it’s clear that consumer confidence is low,” said Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO.
“Shoppers have exercised extreme caution or shopped strategically online, seeking out discounts rather than visiting brick and mortar stores or making impulse purchases,” she said, adding that this year is set to be another challenging year for the sector.
Analysts have highlighted a disconnect between supportive economic factors — with consumers’ real earnings growing and employment levels high — and an apparent reluctance to spend, partly due to uncertainty over Brexit.
Britain’s economic growth slowed to a crawl at the end of last year and the housing market is stalling, according to data published on Friday, less than three months before Brexit day.
Clothing chain Next PLC is the only major listed UK retailer to have reported on Christmas trade so far. It fared better than expected, with a late surge in online demand offsetting steep falls in store sales.
A raft of retailers are due to update next week, including Marks & Spencer Group PLC, Tesco PLC and Sainsbury’s PLC.
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