High street set for big discountsNew figures show sales slump

11 November 2008

People crossing a busy road whilst shopping

High street shoppers can expect heavy discounts as new official figures reveal retail sales are at their worst for three years.

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium today show retail sales for October 2008 dropped 2.2% compared to October 2007 – making total sales lower than a year ago for the first time since April 2005.

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said the figures leave no doubt that ‘retailers will need to resort to heavy discounts to bolster sales over this crucial trading period’. 

Discounts for shoppers

The British Retail Consortium figures showed sales of clothing and footwear remained poor and discount driven, and furniture and homewares fell further below levels of a year ago. Food and drink was the only sector to show sales significantly up on the previous year.

The fall in sales has also hit online retailers with sales falling days after the banking crisis, implying that consumers are worried about their finances.

Wholesale prices fall

The bad news for retailers follows figures from the Office for National Statistics showing the wholesale prices for goods falling at their fastest rate since records began.

The price of goods leaving the factory dropped by 1% in October 2008, the biggest fall since government records began in 1986.

Experts predict that the figures had given the Bank of England more leeway to continue dropping interest rates.

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