As the recession bites more and more retailers are going under but at the same time some are riding high. The overall picture is gloomy but there is some light relief in the food and footwear sectors.
Starting with the good news Sainsbury's has had its best Christmas ever and as a result it is planing to expand and will be looking to grow its workforce. The chain will add between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs over the next year.
JD Sports also had a good Christmas growing like for like sales by 2.8%. It is interesting to note that JD Sports was amongst the few multiples that resisted the trend to discount stock before Christmas. The decision clearly hasn't had a bad effect on turnover and will have helped margins at a time when competitors are cutting theirs to the bone.
On the downside, however, overall retail sales fell 1.4% in December making it the worst December since the British Retail Consortium started recording this information 14 years ago.
Prospects for the year ahead are sadly not good. Experian has predicted that about 10% of shops will be vacant by the end of February and as many as 15% will be empty by the end of the year.
This is about double the average vacancy rate nationwide. In Brighton it is much lower at 4.7%. However, there are streets in Brighton where vacancy is already 13% and further decline in these areas could be devastating. One encouraging factor is that footfall in the city centre continues to hold up well (see earlier story)
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British Retail Consortium