High street reeling after retailers suffer Olympic Games slump

| September 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

By
Rupert Steiner

01:26 EST, 4 September 2012


|

02:58 EST, 4 September 2012

Britain’s battered retailers experienced an Olympic wipe-out over August when consumers dodged the high street and internet shopping sites to watch our sporting heroes go for gold.

A dire update from the British Retail Consortium said the net effect of the games was minimal as store chains reported the worst sales growth this year.

Director general Stephen Robertson said: ‘It’s clear people were absorbed by the magnificent Olympics and had little interest in shopping, especially for major items.’

Fall at first hurdle: Retailers posted the worst sales growth since November 2011

Fall at first hurdle: Retailers posted the worst sales growth since November 2011

Underlying sales were down 0.4 per cent from August 2011, when they were down 0.6 per cent on the preceding year.

Lower footfall in London was offset
by a better performance in the rest of the country but the most
noticeable impact from the Olympics was felt online which saw growth of
just 4.8 per cent in August – the lowest since October 2008.

‘Usually reliable online sales
suffered, putting in the worst sales growth since we started the measure
four years ago,’ said Robertson. ‘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 their
computers and mobile devices than shopping.’

There was a mild boost to food sales in the form of party treats and drink.

Party snacks such as crisps and nuts were consumed in front of the TV, while the hotter weather saw strong sales for BBQ foods.

The BRC said: ‘With continued
consumer caution and a difficult trading environment, food and drink was
one of the best performing categories this month.’ This was backed up
by separate figures from market research firm Nielsen which showed the
Olympics and some proper summer weather helped grocery retailers enjoy
their best four-week period so far this year, both compared with the
previous year and sales growth.

The data showed sales for the UK’s
leading supermarkets during the four weeks ending August 18 were 3.5 per
cent higher than the same period a 12 months earlier.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s head of
retail, said: ‘Although promotional activity has remained unchanged the
continual use of money-off vouchers and coupons has marked a differing
approach by retailers this summer.

‘This has helped to increase shopping basket spends and in return given shoppers further savings at the checkout.’

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