Andrew Goodacre, ceo of Bira (British Independent Retailers Association), has commented on the results of the latest retail sales monitor released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG, which show a 2.7% slump in retail sales in May. Excluding Easter distortions, this represents the biggest decline since the BRC-KPMG record began in January 1995.
Andrew said: “The disappointing figures reported by the BRC are reflective of the challenging times that retail faces as a whole. We saw encouraging figures for April, helped by Easter, but these figures show the brittle nature of consumer confidence and that any uncertainty (such as Brexit) will result in less spending.
“Interestingly, whilst we can’t directly compare these figures, our own survey of independent retail businesses saw a slightly better first quarter for small businesses, with 51.75% of respondents reporting a higher performance for Q1, which is up on Q4 2018 (46.43%) and is a clear improvement on Q1 2018 (42.56%).
“We hope this positive start to the year for independent retail businesses will continue but as we know, nothing is certain in retail. The smaller independent retail businesses have been helped with a 30% reduction in business rates and we now need the government to start spending the £675 million High Street Fund to help bring confidence back to our high streets.
“As always, Bira will continue to fight the corner for independent businesses across the UK and we are now looking to secure a permanent solution for business rates from 2021.”
Bira works with over 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes, and runs a quarterly sales monitor four times a year.