BRC reports biggest high street decline in 25 years

The UK high street saw the biggest decline since the mid 1990s last month, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned, after overall retail sales fell by 2.7% in May.

UK retail sales fell by 3% on a like-for-like basis, on the back of tough comparable, with food sales dropping for the first time since June 2016.

However, in the three months to May, food sales increased 0.8% on a Like-for-like basis (1.9% on a total basis), below the 12-month Total average growth of 2.5%.

The results were described as worst decline since the BRC started recording data in January 1995, but the organisation noted that the figures were being compared to May 2018, when they had hit a four-year high, up 4.1%.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the political uncertainty, business rates acting as a barrier to investment, a broken tax system and the technological revolution were all factors contributing to tough trading conditions.

“With retail conditions the toughest they have been for a decade, politicians must act to support the successful reinvention of our high streets and local communities,”she said.

“While May 2018 offered almost unbroken sunshine, topped off by the run up to the World Cup and the marriage of Meghan and Harry, May 2019 delivered political and economic uncertainty.”

IGD chief executive Susan Barratt said the grocery sector would be disappointed by the figures for May which ended “a good run of underlying growth”, particularly as it entered a tough period for year-on-year sales comparisons.


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