Retailers face tough pre-Christmas period…

Conditions are toughening for customers and retailers as the crucial run-up to Christmas begins, says the British Retail Consortium (BRC). This follows retail figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which reveal that sales growth slowed sharply in September.

The BRC however adds that the 3% year-on-year increase in sales values reported by ONS was still above the weaker 1% figure recorded by the BRC.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC says: “With a number of major retailers reporting serious sales falls, the ONS’ claim that sales values are up 3% on a year ago seems high. Our figure is just 1%.”

Both results are well below inflation, meaning real-terms sales are falling.

“The official figures rightly confirm overall sales growth is slowing and conditions toughening for customers and retailers as the crucial run-up to Christmas begins,” Robertson adds.

“With almost all sales growth confined to food many non-food retailers are under huge pressure. Not only are sales hard to come by but deep and widespread discounting is putting margins under tremendous pressure as costs rise. Even food sales growth is slowing as the rate of food price rises comes down.”

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