RECENT industry monitors reflect the gravity of recessionary pressures and their impact on the economy and the retail sector.
The BRC survey showed UK retail sales value fell 3.3% on a like for like basis, making December 2008 the worst December since the survey began 14 years ago. Food and footwear were the only sectors to show sales increases on a year ago. Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Non-food retailers had a torrid December despite a blizzard of promotions and deals, which would have hit margins. Many hard-pressed customers couldn’t be seduced into spending.”
Similarly the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Fourth Quarter Economic Survey results reflected a serious deterioration of the UK economic situation – the results were the worst on record for both manufacturing and services since the survey was first published in 1989. It is clear that the UK economy is facing a very serious recession as domestic demand is plunging, exports are falling, and confidence is plummeting. The Q4 domestic balances were particularly disturbing. Home sales and orders, in both manufacturing and services, are in negative territory for all firm sizes and for all UK regions.
Meanwhile Equifax, has released its Business Failures Report for 2008 which showed that the overall increase in business failures for the whole of 2008 compared to 2007 is a staggering 18.2%. Equally worrying is the increase in failures in the last quarter of the year – 32.1%. The construction sector saw the greatest year-on-year increase in failures, 32.4%, while the retail sector was the next hardest hit, with a 23.9% increase in failures for the whole of the year.