Crunch tightens for British retailers

Tough trading conditions continue as sales decline for two consecutive months, according to BRC
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Sales dropped by 2.6 per cent at UK retail this November on a like-for-like basis.

The fall follows a similar story in October and marks the first time that sales have dipped for two consecutive months since the British Retail Consortium first started recording figures in the mid 1990’s.

Despite discounts and promotions across the high street November sales couldn’t keep up with last year’s performance – when sales rose 1.2 per cent.

Food and drink were the only sectors to show a rise last month.

“The numbers speak for themselves – these are clearly tough times,” warned BRC director general Stephen Robertson. “In the 14 years of this survey we have never recorded two consecutive months of total sales falls.

"Like-for-like sales have now fallen in eight out of the last nine months. All sectors are down apart from food and drink. Retailers will be hoping that customers have been putting off Christmas shopping - not cancelling it,” Robertson added.

KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson offered some hope for retailers though, saying that November’s VAT cut may have delayed consumers from making purchases: “There is little doubt that Christmas will arrive late for many retailers, leaving them with a very nerve-wracking couple of weeks to come.

"It's possible that November's figures have been negatively impacted by consumers delaying purchases in the last week of the month following the VAT announcement, while they waited for the change to be implemented,” Dickinson continued.

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