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UK retail prices fall as festive season gets underway

Kumutha Ramanathan
·2-min read
Shoppers on a deserted Oxford Street in London. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images
Shoppers on a deserted Oxford Street in London. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

UK shop prices fell by 1.8% in November compared with a 1.2% decline in October, according to figures published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on Wednesday.

Non-food prices fell by 3.7% in November compared with a decline of 2.7% in October, which is below the 12- and six-month average price declines of 2.8% and 3.2%, respectively.

Food inflation gained by 1.3% in November, up from 1.2% in October. This is also below the 12-month average price increase of 1.4%, but in line with the six-month average price increase of 1.3%.

“As we approach Christmas, consumers will be glad to see another month of falling prices, said Helen Dickinson.

“This was mainly driven by non-food products, where prices have fallen at a much quicker rate than the previous month. Where demand was weak for some products, discounting has followed, with many retailers trying to encourage more consumer spending, particularly those selling fashion and DIY goods. Meanwhile, food inflation remains low, but we anticipate upward pressures on food prices once the UK-EU transition period ends.”

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UK retailers have been struggling in the face of two lockdowns and uncertainty as to when a COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out.

Dickinson said she estimates businesses that shuttered during lockdown have lost billions in sales and many are now in a precarious financial position.

“The government must not subject these businesses to a return to full business rates liability from April 2021, and they must urgently consider extending the moratorium on debt enforcement beyond January,” she added. “Without such interventions, we will see countless more store closures and job losses, deepening the crisis on our high streets.”

The UK government has introduced a number of schemes to shore up support for ailing high streets around the country, including allowing retailers to extend their daily opening hours from Monday to Saturday in the run up to Christmas.

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