UK retail businesses experienced “their worst Christmas in a decade”, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Total retail sales showed zero year-on-year growth in December, the worst December performance since 2008, despite a swathe of promotions and deals. On a like-for-like basis, retail sales actually fell by 0.7% from December 2017.
BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said: “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 10 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.”
Dickinson said the trading environment remained tough and that “retailers are facing up to 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.”
Food sales was the one area of retail that showed some very minor glimmers of hope.