Festive trading failed to bring Christmas cheer for the UK retailer sector, as new figures reveal the UK experienced the worst December performance since 2008.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), total retail sales showed 0% year-on-year growth during the month, the worst December performance in a decade.

The latest BRC-KPMG report said that retailers’ price cuts over the period – which start earlier and earlier each year – failed to encourage shoppers.


BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, shares: “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 ever larger.”

She added: “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.”

The non-existent year-on-year growth in UK retail over the last month was the culmination of a challenging year for the sector, in which shoppers stayed away from the high street on what is usually a peak trading weekend before Christmas.

Bad weather dampens footfall on one of the busiest days before Christmas, with numbers down by 9% compared to the same period last year.

Experts say consumers remained cautious even over Christmas as the UK remains in a state of uncertainty.

Business on the high street is only set to get tougher as Brexit deadline looms.

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Editor, Professional Jeweller