Retailers unhappy with Olympic failure to stop sales from diving

Julian Harris
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RETAIL sales recorded their second worst month of the year in August with the Olympic Games failing to lift activity in the UK’s shops, an industry group said this morning.

Like-for-like retail sales sank by 0.4 per cent last month compared to the same time in 2011, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said.

And separate data from the Local Data Company (LDC), also released today, says that consumer spending has fallen back to 2002 levels.

The shop vacancy rate rose to 14.6 per cent in the first half of the year, LDC reports, up by 0.3 percentage points from the second half of last year.

And the BRC says the situation is not improving. “There’s no evidence here of any Olympic boost to retail sales overall,” said its director general Stephen Robertson.

“Sadly, apart from April – distorted by Easter timings – August saw the worst sales growth this year.”

Total sales, which include new shop floor areas, were up 1.6 per cent in August compared to a year earlier. But even this was weaker than at any point since November last year, excluding April’s Easter-affected result.

The Olympics boosted sales of food and drink, the BRC found, yet the rise was offset by a steep drop in non-food sales.

“It’s clear people were absorbed by the magnificent Olympics and had little interest in shopping, especially for major items,” Robertson concluded.