Reports that the London Olympics have failed to ignite high street retail sales appear to have been supported by the latest data.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is the latest retail body to reveal figures that suggested there was no Olympics boost in July and that actually growth seen the previous month declined.
Figures reported today from the BRC and accountancy giant KPMG suggested a 0.1% increase in like-for-like sales last month compared to 0.6% in June while total sales values were up 2% following a rise of 3.5% in June.
This followed data from MatserCard SpendingPulse which suggested overall sales growth of 2.3% in July compared to 2.6% in June.
Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Sadly, July was a lacklustre month and it’s doubtful this trend will change as early expectations that the Olympics will raise retailers’ fortunes look to be wide of the mark.
“Central London’s retailers are already being hit hard by shoppers actively avoiding the capital. It’s likely that any blip of benefit the games bring will be short lived.”
Although the BRC/KPMG Retail Sales Monitor does not strip out travel as a specific sector it does suggest that spending was being prioritised on essentials rather than discretionary items with grocers faring the best on the high street.
Online travel retailers, however, are likely to have benefited from the sector’s best sales performance since Christmas, up 15.6%, with shoppers said to have avoided the UK’s awful weather to shop from home.
Shweta Chaudhury, managing consultant at MasterCard SpendingPulse, said: “Retail sales beginning to slow is a sign that the high street is settling into a steadily low rate of growth after the worryingly low period earlier this year.
“While the Diamond Jubilee did provide a temporary and welcome boost to the high street, we are not seeing consumers continue to spend freely over the summer.
“The forces of lasting low consumer confidence, low disposable incomes and unrelenting rainfall could not be overcome by the start of the school holidays, solitary week of sunshine or Olympic build-up.”
Department store John Lewis reported a 6.2% increase in sales in the week leading up to the Olympics, however, it’s London stores were the worst performing with all suffering declines and shopper steered clear of the capital.
The BRC has reported that some restaurants in London are up to 40% down and Experian figures claimed footfall in east London was down 9.6% on Monday and Tuesday this week and 4.5% down in west London.
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