UK — January Retail Sales Worse than Expected

  • Retailers saw sales slipping as the result of the month's coronavirus conditions.
  • The weak economic climate has resulted in a number of factors contributing to the sluggish performance of British Business.
  • The number of people entering the job market in January was the highest since records began.

The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics announced that retail sales in the United Kingdom decreased by 8.2% month-on-month in January, which is expected to decrease by 2.5%. The year-on-year decrease is 5.9%, which is expected to decrease by 1.3%. During the period, retail sales excluding energy decreased by 8.8% month-on-month.

Pound sterling (symbol: £; ISO code: GBP), known in some contexts simply as the pound or sterling, is the official currency of the United Kingdom.

This is expected to decrease by 2.6%, a year-on-year decrease of 3.8%, which is expected to increase by 2.2%.

Retailers saw sales slipping as the result of the month’s coronavirus conditions. January’s weather is considered one of the most unfavorable for outdoor activities in Britain, with heavy rain and snow expected across the country.

In addition, shoppers are also concerned about the state of the economy. The weak economy and increasing unemployment rate are blamed for the widening gap between rich and poor.

According to research from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), January’s average price for a range of common household products climbed 1.2% year on year, compared to a rise of two percent in December.

The cost of clothes, clothing accessories, food and drinks, and other items, such as shoes and sports equipment, climbed at the fastest pace. Prices for some types of merchandise tracked higher than normal rates during the month of January.

February’s figures are also due to be released shortly. January figures will confirm that the downward trend seen in the previous months has continued, with retailers reporting that they have enjoyed slow but steady growth in January.

The weak economic climate has resulted in a number of factors contributing to the sluggish performance of British Business. According to analysts, one of the main culprits for the weaker performance of British Retail Trade in January is the Coronavirus pandemic.

January’s cold snap has resulted in a drop in traffic throughout the UK, with many stores experiencing increased foot traffic only on non-weekend shopping periods. Many businesses have closed up for the winter period, reducing their staff numbers and consequently reducing the amount of business generated through the month.

A weak economy means lower income from work as well as fewer customers. In January, the low incomes resulted in slower business and hence slower sales.

The number of people entering the job market in January was the highest since records began. The employment figures for January were also better than expected, resulting in an increase in the number of people seeking jobs. This is great news for those hoping to secure a job and improve their financial situation.

However, January’s rise in employment figures masks the fact that the job market is still tight, and employers have struggled to fill available positions.

Retail sales in UK

While a dip in British Retail Sales in January is good news for consumers, it is bad news for the British retailers, who are potentially facing budget blowouts due to overspending during the festive period.

In December, festive shoppers were forced to spend, on average, three times more on their Christmas shopping than the average consumer, as high brand name goods became available at discounts and sales prices spiraled upward.

As a result of this trend, many British retailers reported record levels of overspending in December and January, causing a recession-like effect on their businesses.

However, retailers were quick to point out that despite the downward trend in British Retail Sales in January, they were buoyed up somewhat by the positive news coming out of the capital, London.

The number of tourists visiting London in January has been reported to be down on last year’s figures, proving that the UK tourism industry should be able to weather the coronavirus storm and remain intact.

The British Retail Sales report also showed a number of signs that many British retailers were successfully dealing with coronavirus, with the overall decline in shopping being reported across most parts of the country.

Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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