BRC confirms Olympics failed to boost sales

The Olympics failed to boost sales in the UK in August, with online transactions hit alongside high street spending, the British Retail Consortium reported today (4th September).

Retail sales values were down 0.4% on a like-for-like basis in comparison to August last year. Online sales across all categories were up 4.8% - the lowest rise since it started recording online sales data in October 2008.  The BRC said some retailers reported internet traffic saw a sharp drop off in the evenings as households were absorbed by the Olympics.

Book sales, it noted, were down during the Olympics “as watching the Games became the favourite entertainment,” but sports books attracted a renewed interest, and sales of cookbooks and erotica were strong.

Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “It’s clear people were absorbed by the magnificent Olympics and had little interest in shopping, especially for major items. Usually-reliable online sales suffered, putting in the worst sales growth since we started the measure four years ago. Some retailers told us online activity was particularly thin in the evenings. If people weren’t watching television they were more likely to be following the sport on PCs and mobile devices than shopping.

“As summer gives way to the all-important Christmas run-up, retailers will be hoping sales that didn’t happen in August have been postponed and not lost entirely.”