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High street sales squeezed as consumers avoid big ticket items

·2-min read
The ‘Jubilee Jump’ for retail last month may not have been quite what was expected (Philip Toscano/PA) (PA Wire)
The ‘Jubilee Jump’ for retail last month may not have been quite what was expected (Philip Toscano/PA) (PA Wire)

The ‘Jubilee Jump’ of consumers flocking to the high street looks likely to have been trampled underfoot by rail strikes during June.

Sales margins were also patchy as the public turned to value brands in the face of the cost of living crisis.

According to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), for the five weeks from May 29 to July 2 in total there was only a two percentage point improvement from May to June,  despite the freedom to take part in some retail therapy following the easing of pandemic restrictions.

This did not knock on to sales, however, as customers downgraded shopping choices turning to value brands in the face of the ongoing cost of living crisis and a 40-year inflation high.

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, said: “June delivered a rollercoaster ride for the high street – the highs of the ‘Jubilee Jump’ in footfall where retailers benefitted from the beginning of the month was, in part, derailed by the rail strikes as some shoppers stayed at home to avoid travel disruption.

“This mixed bag of footfall performance will do little to allay retailers’ concerns as the cost-of-living and inflationary pressures continue to weigh heavy in the public consciousness.”

Sales increased 8.4% compared to June 2021, but homeware sales plunged 8.8% as shoppers turned away from high-end items.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, said that the Jubilee celebrations had “compensated” for the impact of the rail strikes on city centre footfall, but that had not “translated into in-store and online sales…as consumers tighten their belts.”

“With many people struggling, retailers are doing all they can to support their most vulnerable customers,” she added.

Dickinson added that the situation would only worsen in October as the energy price cap rises and the colder weather increases gas and electricity usage.

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