The latest retail figures, published last Thursday by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), show the tricky trading conditions retailers are operating under as 2010 comes to a close.
The severe weather conditions just one week out from Christmas will add to the pain. Though cars were queueing up outside city centre car parks in Brighton at the weekend. The ONS figures show a 3.4% year-on-year increase in sales values, in line with November’s BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, which recorded a 2.8% rise.
Responding to the ONS figures, BRC Director General, Stephen Robertson, said, “These official figures confirm how delicately balanced the retail sector is ahead of Christmas. “Total sales growth has been weak for eight months now and a third of retailers have told us they’re expecting a worse Christmas than last year. What growth there is is largely coming from food sales.
“Shaky consumer confidence, with people worried about their jobs and personal finances, means customers are cutting back on non-essential purchases. Our figures show one in four households have no disposable income left at the end of the month, and that’s likely to get worse. Add in the disruption caused to our high streets by the severe winter weather and it all makes for a nail-biting end to the year for retailers.”
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