UK high streets struggling in run up to Christmas
Non-food sales rose by only 0.2% in October, causing concern for high street retailers in the run up to Christmas.
In the run up to Christmas, a slump in customer spending is the last thing a retailer wants to see. Since its records began in 2011, the British Retail Consortium has reported a “meagre month” of spending by consumers in October, with clothing stores, in particular, feeling the hardest pinch. Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, claims that inflation (the highest in over five years) is putting people off splashing their cash this year.
This is the latest in a tough year for high street retailers, the Brexit vote pushing the value of the pound down and prices up. Next, Debenhams, New Look and ASDA have all announced falls and in some case damaging losses to their sales, whilst Lloyd’s Bank released a report that found average households were struggling more with living costs than they were a year ago. The big fear, of course, is that this dreary outcome will continue through the Christmas period – retailers’ key period for sales.
A Report by the CBI announced that orders placed with suppliers were at its lowest since 2009, with 50% of retailers polled reporting a decline in sales in October. The issue is not only a lack of confidence by consumers in the economic climate but also a shift from browsing shop floors to browsing phones. M&S has closed multiple stores in order to focus its efforts and investment into its online market.
Sadly, the withdrawal of big brands from our high streets has dramatic repercussions for smaller stores, as customers stop visiting their local high street altogether. High rent demands from some landlords make it impossible for smaller retailers to survive these sale slumps. Perhaps Black Friday at the end of the month will revitalise consumers as they attempt to secure discounts in the run up to Christmas.