UK retail sales returned to negative like-for-like growth last month, in what was described as "the second worst January" since retail records began in 1995.
Figures from the British Retail Consortium this morning (7th February) show like-for-like sales were down 0.3% in January in comparison to the same month last year, as the reality of shoppers' economic outlook for the year ahead set in.The sales decline was the second worst January since the survey began in 1995, the BRC said, while noting that book sales fell to their lowest level since 2003, “hit by the growing popularity of e-books and people cutting back on discretionary spending.” However, the BRC noted that e-readers sold well.
Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: “As 2012 gets underway, it’s clear people don’t feel any better about the immediate future than they did 12 months ago. Customers parked their worries in December and spent, encouraged by discounts. Now, in the New Year, reality has bitten again as concerns about jobs, wages and household costs reassert themselves."
Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, added: “After a stronger than expected December, these latest figures are rather sobering. The return to negative like-for-like sales reflects the trend seen throughout most of 2011 and is a stark reminder of the challenges facing retailers.”
Last week, The Bookseller reported printed book sales fell 12% year-on-year in January, with sales in the four weeks to 28th January 2012 totalling £95.3m, down £13.3m on the comparative period last year, according to Nielsen BookScan data,