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November was 'tough month' for retailers, says BRC

Published: 7 December 2010
UK retail sales increased by 0.7% on a like-for-like basis compared with November 2009, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
November was 'tough month' for retailers, says BRC
Total sales were up 2.8% against a 4.1% increase in November 2009.

Homewares slowed, showing a larger year-on-year decline than in October, with sales still often deal-driven, and big-ticket items affected by consumer uncertainty over job cuts and income prospects.

Food sales growth rose a little further, though partly reflecting food inflation. Clothing and footwear also had a better month, helped by colder weather.

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: "It's been another tough month. Total sales growth has been weak now for eight months in a row and, given that VAT has pushed up annual inflation boosting sales values, underlying volume growth is virtually zero.

"Customers are cutting back because they're worried about prospects for their own jobs and personal finances. Non-food sales are being hit hardest. But, if there is good news, it's that the cuts outlined in the Government's Spending Review have not made things worse."

He added: "With the final run-up underway, Christmas performance is delicately poised. Overall, the extreme weather has dramatically undermined sales over the last 10 days. Retailers will be hoping disruption eases so that sales lost early in the month are made up over the next couple of weeks and not lost entirely. Booming internet sales alone are unlikely to make up sales shortfalls."

Non-food, non-store sales growth picked up in November after slowing in October. Sales were 17.6% higher than a year ago, against a 16.9% increase in November 2009.

Mr Robertson put this growth down partly to promotions and the pre-Christmas build up, as well as "continued structural growth as people become increasingly comfortable and familiar with this means of shopping".

He added: "But it's crucial to remember that this is rapid growth in just one small corner of overall retailing. Non-store sales are only 6% of total retail sales."

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