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2018 was the worst Christmas for retail since 2008

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Figures by KPMG and BRC our today have shown that on a total basis, sales were a flat 0.0% in December, against an increase of 1.4% in December 2017. This is the lowest growth since April, excluding Easter distortions, and below the 3-month and 12-month averages of 0.5% and 1.2% respectively. This is also the worst December performance since 2008.

  • In December, UK retail sales decreased by 0.7% on a like-for-like basis from December 2017, when they had increased 0.6% from the preceding year.
  • The 12-month average for 2018 saw sales rise by 1.2% on a total basis. This was comprised of 3.1% rise in Food sales and -0.3% Non-Food sales on a total basis.
  • Over the three months to December, In-store sales of Non-Food items declined 2.8% on a Total basis and 3.9% on a Like-for-like basis. This is below the 12-month Total average decline of 2.5%. The decline of the month was the worst since April in both Total and like-for-like terms.
  • Over the three months to December, Food sales increased 0.6% on a like-for-like basis and 1.8% on a total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 3.1%.
  • Over the three-months to December, Non-Food retail sales in the UK decreased 1.2% on a like-for-like basis and 0.4% on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average decrease of 0.3%. December Non-Food sales experienced a decline.
  • Online sales of Non-Food products grew5.8% in December, against a growth of 7.6% in December 2017. This is above the 3-month average of 5.5% but below the 12-month average of 6.9%.
  • Online penetration rate increased from 29.1% in December 2017 to 31.2% last month.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium

“Squeezed consumers chose not to splash out this Christmas with retail sales growth stalling for the first time in 28 months. The worst December sales performance in ten years means a challenging start to 2019 for retailers, with Business Rates set to rise once again this year, and the threat of a No-Deal Brexit looming ever larger.
“The retail landscape is changing dramatically in the UK, while the trading environment remains tough. Retailers are facing up this challenge but are having to wrestle with mounting costs from a succession of government policies – from the Apprenticeship Levy,to higher wage costs, to rising business rates.
“Retail makes up 5 per cent of the economy, yet pays 10 per cent of all business taxes and 25 per cent of all business rates. This is neither fair nor sustainable. The Government should urgently look into reforming the broken business rates system and champion the future of retail in the UK.”




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