RSM comments on latest ONS retail sales figures

Commenting on the latest retail sales for December issued by the Office of National Statistics, Ryan Broomfield, RSM partner and retail specialist said:

'While sales were slightly up in December versus the same period last year reflecting the fact that this year's Black Friday fell within the reporting period, the three-month period to the end of December was very disappointing. The amount spent and quantity bought fell by 0.9 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively, versus the previous three months. 

'This is a particularly poor result given this is meant to be the Golden Quarter where seasonal sales are supposed to provide a revenue boost. In addition, these figures will not show the potential sting in the tail – the impact of consumers returning unwanted gifts after Christmas.

'This brings to an end what has been a pretty torrid 2019 for many high street operators, described by the British Retail Consortium as the worst for 25 years. Shoppers will have noticed the impact of store vacancies in retail parks and town centres, notably in areas which have lost large department stores and with further closures expected in 2020.

'That said, Christmas wasn't a wash-out for everyone. While some big names have posted disappointing seasonal sales numbers, a number of innovative retailers with good products and well-defined brand propositions have bucked the trend and exceeded investor expectations.'

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