Results from the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) influential retail sales monitor, due to be released on Tuesday, are expected to show that February was dismal on the high street.
Like-for-like sales are expected to be 1.5% down on 2004, which was by no means a great year for retail. A separate report later this week from the Nationwide is expected to show that the prospect of a general election (widely tipped for May 5th) is having a depressing effect on consumer spending and the continuing slide in house prices can only make the situation worse.
The news from the BRC comes amidst a number of profit warnings and reports of poor performance from the retail sector with even the usually invulnerable John Lewis reporting a 2.5% drop in sales during February. They lay part of the blame on the weather and the Met Office for giving inaccurate predictions which is ironic because, in what has become a depressing trend for British fashion retailers, the sudden downturn in the weather has come two months too late to boost winter sales.
The downturn in retail sales is unlikely to herald a recession but neither is it likely to end in the immediate future. In Brighton & Hove the all-important independent sector is the most vulnerable and it is essential that they rein in their overheads as much as possible to weather the months of depressed turnover that lie ahead.
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