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High Street

British retailers suffer worst year on record, BRC reveals

The BRC also reported that sales on food items rose by 5.4%, as consumers flocked to supermarkets in 2020 to stock up on essential items

British retailers suffered one of the worst years on record for sales growth, a new study by KPMG and BRC reveals. 

According to the pair’s ‘retail monitor’, total sales declined 0.3% compared with 2019. Sales on non-food items such as clothing also witnessed a 5.0% dip, due to national lockdowns forcing retailers to shut and cease trading. 

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive at BRC said that physical non-food stores including all of non-essential retail “saw sales drop by a quarter compared with 2019”, adding that Christmasoffered little respite” for retailers, as many shops were forced to shut during the peak trading period.

The BRC also reported that sales on food items rose by 5.4%, as consumers flocked to supermarkets in 2020 to stock up on essential items. 

Paul Martin, UK head of Retail KPMG, said: “Further restrictions and the closure of many non-essential shops resulted in a dismal December performance for those retailers on the high street and conditions will continue to be challenging as we enter another national lockdown. 

Consumer behaviour will also continue to evolve and retailers must embrace the changes if they are to hold on to hard won customers and generate profitable sales.”

He added: ”Looking ahead, fortunes will be mixed but pent up savings and a successful vaccine roll out will help support recovery in the retail sector later in the year. Retailers will also be hoping that the reopening of high streets and shopping centres will see a return to more normal levels of footfall.”

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