BRC knocks government retail figures

Ronnie Dungan

By Ronnie Dungan

September 18th 2008 at 11:43AM
BRC knocks government retail figures

The British Retail Consortium says new retail figures from the ONS do not convey tough trading conditions.

Today's Office for National Statistics figures suggest August’s total sales values were up 3.9 per cent on a year ago, well above the weak 1.4 per cent shown by the BRC’s figures. ONS year-on-year growth was higher in August than July (it also reported an increase in year-on-year sales growth between June and July). The BRC’s Retail Sales Monitor shows it has been falling.

ONS doesn't measure like-for-like sales but BRC figures show sales down year-on-year for five of the last six months.

Stephen Robertson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium, said: “These unexpectedly resilient figures fail to convey how tough conditions are for customers and retailers. Plenty of retailers would be delighted if their sales values were up nearly four per cent on a year ago.

“Fundamental conditions are weakening, not improving, and recent banking industry uncertainty can only make customers more nervous about spending.

“Yes, clothing and footwear sales growth has risen but that growth is modest and driven by discounts. It cannot be called strong and cannot explain ONS’ high overall figures.  
“We respect the ONS’s process but the Bank of England is right to treat these figures as only one measure of retail performance.”