Olympic feelgood factor fails to lift gloom on British high street

Julian Harris
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GLOOM on the high street has continued in August, a leading survey revealed yesterday, with retailers becoming even more downbeat over business prospects for the next three months.

Despite an uplift in morale from sunny weather and the London 2012 Olympic Games, retail sales were virtually flat compared to the same time last year.

The survey, published by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), showed that nearly one third (31 per cent) of retailers reported lower sales volumes this month than in August 2011.

Only 27 per cent reported a greater volume of sales, leaving a disappointing rounded balance of minus three per cent.

“Although this summer’s events created a mood of celebration across the nation, these figures would suggest this positivity did not extend to the high street,” said Judith McKenna, chief operating officer of Asda.

“However, although retailers expect the overall business situation to worsen in the coming three months, they still expect sales to rise year-on-year in September.”

A net balance of 17 per cent of retailers said they expect their overall business situation to deteriorate in the next three months, while the number of people being employed in the sector also fell.

A net balance of 25 per cent of retailers said their headcount was down compared to the same time last year, while a net balance of 12 per cent expect it to fall further next month.