Black­friar

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS / NEWS -

The monthly BRC-KPMG Re­tail Sales Mon­i­tor re­ported poor trad­ing con­di­tions in the UK shop­ping scene as the al­limpor­tant peak Christ­mas trad­ing pe­riod ap­proaches. The weak con­di­tions fol­low a strong sum­mer, led by the gro­cery sec­tor as shop­pers basked in Eng­land’s World Cup success and the pro­longed heat­wave.

How­ever, even the food sec­tor is now caught up in an ap­par­ent shop­ping strike by the Bri­tish con­sumer.

An­a­lysts such as Clive Black at Shore Cap­i­tal say that the con­sumer mood seemed to change to­wards the end of Septem­ber, cor­re­spond­ing with the build-up of ten­sion sur­round­ing Brexit.

For the first time since the EU ref­er­en­dum, an­a­lysts say that sto­icism has been re­placed by con­cern as shop­pers fi­nally re­alise that Brexit might ac­tu­ally af­fect them.

It has come to light that some vot­ers thought that ‘no deal’ meant we would just stick with our cur­rent EU deal, which highlights the ab­so­lute con­fu­sion sur­round­ing this aw­ful mess.

As Mr Black points out, that con­cern is set against the back­drop of near full em­ploy­ment, an eas­ing of aus­ter­ity mea­sures for el­e­ments of the pub­lic sec­tor and ris­ing real liv­ing stan­dards.

He added: “The eco­nom­ics are not out­ing at the mo­ment as the frankly chaotic pol­i­tics of a some­what dis­grace­fully frag­mented and self-in­ter­ested po­lit­i­cal class takes its toll.”

The lat­est GfK NOP con­sumer con­fi­dence data, which came in at mi­nus 13, is a level not seen since the im­me­di­ate ref­er­en­dum re­sult and Theresa May’s fool­hardy snap Gen­eral Elec­tion.

Any­one who says they can pre­dict what will hap­pen next is ly­ing. Bri­tain is now the laugh­ing stock of the world and that takes some do­ing bear­ing in mind what is go­ing on in the US, France, Italy and China.

Mr Black be­lieves the chaos may per­sist and whilst we are un­able to sec­ond-guess the out­comes, we can be more as­sured that the shop­per will re­main cau­tious, mak­ing for what could be a very chal­leng­ing De­cem­ber trade, with a cor­re­spond­ingly poor New Year trad­ing up­date sea­son.

He said that for the more fi­nan­cially vul­ner­a­ble re­tail­ers, the New Year could be very telling.

The BRC-KPMG data re­vealed that to­tal re­tail sales in Novem­ber in­creased by just 0.5 per cent ver­sus a 1.5 per cent com­par­a­tive, which is be­low the 12 month mov­ing av­er­age of 1.3 per cent.

Like-for-like sales fell by 0.5 per cent against a mod­est com­par­a­tive of 0.6 per cent and in-store, non­food like-for-like sales growth fell by 3.3 per cent.

He­len Dick­in­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Bri­tish Re­tail Con­sor­tium, said that weak con­sumer de­mand and fall­ing con­fi­dence mean that re­tail­ers are in for a “nerve-wrack­ing run up to Christ­mas”.

She added that con­di­tions in the in­dus­try have been par­tic­u­larly

Even the food sec­tor is now caught up in an ap­par­ent shop­ping strike.

tough since the vote to leave the EU in 2016 and the cur­rent un­cer­tainty has only com­pounded the chal­lenges. She said that only when the UK se­cures a tran­si­tion pe­riod with the EU that en­sures tar­iff-free, fric­tion­less trade will re­tail­ers be able to breathe a sigh of re­lief.

Mr Black con­cluded that store­based re­tail­ers are go­ing to have to use all of their skills to gain cus­tom from a dis­tinctly wor­ried and ag­i­tated na­tion.

Black­friar

If could wave a magic wand, the one thing I’d do right now is ex­pel nearly ev­ery MP and re­place them with the top brass at Asda, Mor­risons, Tesco, Sains­bury’s, M&S, Waitrose, the Co-Op, Ice­land, Aldi and Lidl.

They have the in­tel­li­gence, nous, ex­pe­ri­ence and wit to sort out this un­holy mess – qual­i­ties that are sadly lack­ing in West­min­ster at the mo­ment.

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