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Dramatic Drop in Sales Shows Retail Industry in Dire Straits

04 June 2019 - 22:14 by Simon Crisp

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May was another tough month for retailers across the UK, with statistics from the BRC revealing that there was a 2.7 per cent dip in sales across the board.

Even the usually buoyant e-commerce market struggled to make gains, with 1.5 per cent growth reported. In the same period of 2018, sales made via safe shopping online were up by 11.5 per cent, effectively ten times the level of growth experienced this year.

Experts highlight a number of reasons for this drop-off in retail activity, especially when compared with the previous year. Fine weather, a major sporting event and even a royal wedding helped bolster sales last May, whereas this year benefited from no such stimuli.

Study spokesperson Helen Dickinson said that as a result of these sales figures it is possible to predict that retailers will take drastic action to cut costs, with a loss of jobs all but inevitable across the industry. 

She also pointed out that the UK remains wracked by the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the delayed Brexit deal, coupled with political instability and the impending arrival of a new prime minister without the mandate provided by a general election.

Dickinson said that May also saw a decline in food sales, which has not happened for almost three years. All of this means that the retail industry is effectively facing similar conditions to those that existed in the wake of the credit crunch ten years ago.

On the high street, rising rents mean that store closures are more common than ever. Meanwhile, it seems that even the usually robust e-commerce sector is finding it harder to turn significant public interest into forward momentum, in spite of the fact that double-digit growth has been frequently seen until recently.