Olympic Feelgood Factor Fails to Inspire Shoppers

Shop front - 20 percent offFigures from the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) for August 2012 show that UK retail sales were down by 0.4% on the same period last year.

The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor identifies the "Olympic month" of August as having the worst sales growth in 2012.

Online sales, however, saw a growth rate of 4.8% in the same month – but that is still the lowest rate since 2008 when data collection for the Monitor started.

The Olympic Games, widely touted as being an expected boon to shops and retailers, didn’t have the desired effect, as the BRC’s Director General, Stephen Robertson put it:

"There’s no evidence here of any Olympic boost to retail sales overall. Sadly, apart from April – distorted by Easter timings – August saw the worst sales growth this year."

Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG, echoed this by adding that Britain’s consumers were "otherwise engaged":

"Retailers’ hopes that the Olympics would inspire a pickup in spending were dashed as shoppers stayed away from the high street and enjoyed the sporting spectacle from their armchairs."

Regionally, the figures showed that footfall was lower in London, where, early on, traders in the capital complained of a dramatic fall in business. But the BRC-KPMG Monitor says that retail performance was better in the rest of the country.

The BRC’s Robertson still has an element of optimism though, hoping that the sales that didn’t materialise whilst the sun shone are being held in reserve for the winter season:

"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."

And KPMG’s Dickinson also holds hope for the winter, saying:

"However, it could have been much worse. August is traditionally a weak month for sales and it’s really the next three months that will have a critical impact on retailers’ profitability."

The news of the Olympic retail drop comes as other figures, from the Local Data Company, show that the number of empty shops across the country continued to increase everywhere in the country apart from London.

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