Retailers in the UK have experienced their worst Christmas since the recession struck, with discounted figures continuing to have an impact.
December sales declined by 0.4%, compared to the previous year, on like-for-like sales, adding to the woes already felt throughout the year. According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), this is the worst December for UK retailers since 2008, when sales crashed by 3.3% after the collapse of the Lehman Brothers.
It was however noted by the BRC that the sales for food increased during December. This is the first increase since April. End-of-season sales accounted for a bit of support in the non-food section.
There have been mixed trading reports within the industry for this important month. M&S have reported a discouraging Christmas period, with John Lewis and Next reporting strong sales figures. Morrisons and Debenhams are due to provide investors with an update on Tuesday.
According to the BRC, the overall December performance was positive. Helen Dickinson, the director general of the consortium, stated that targeted discount has proved to be successful for retailers in the UK as prices were reduced sufficiently to attract customers.
The retail sales monitor of BRC-KPMG indicated a 1% increase in total sales which have not been adjusted to take account of the effect of floor space changes as stores open and shut down. This figure is also the weakest reported for December, since 2008.
According to KPMG’s head of retail, David McCorquodale, there was a quiet period after the Black Friday flash sales as consumers sat back and waited for the next wave of discounts and this is what has made sales performance difficult.