High Street sales for the last quarter of 2008 reflect the mood of recession and falling consumer confidence. The deep discounting before Christmas reflects a fall in retailer confidence and the future promises even tougher times to come.
The latest figures from the British Shops and Stores Association (BSSA) are as poor as might have been expected. Sales are down 5.2% compared with the same quarter last year. This is the worst fall ever recorded by the BSSA Monitor.
A more detail look at the figures reveals that 72% of respondents reported a fall of 12% on last year.
But the worst is still to come and 66% of traders are feeling anxious about the future. Some may not survive the next few months that would be hard even in the good times.
All parts of England have seen negative growth though Scotland has seen a rise of 1.8%. The south west has not done too badly with a fall of just 1.0% whereas the south east has been hit harder than most with an average sales fall of 6.8%.
Most sectors have seen sales slump but two notable exceptions have seen a slight rise. These are books/toys/music/computers/telecoms and cookshop/housewares. Christmas gifts could explain this anomaly and these sectors are likely to feel the pinch in the following few months.
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Retail, pubs, clubs and restaurants
British Shops and Stores Association