Olympics 'failed to inspire spending'

Retail like-for-like sales drop 0.4 per cent during August.
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The London 2012 Olympic Games failed to give UK retail a significant sales boost.

The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for August shows that like-for-like sales dropped 0.4 per cent during the month, with total sales up just 1.6 per cent year-on-year. 

This is the lowest growth month since November 2011, due to ‘weak’ non-food sales as ‘the Olympics failed to inspire spending’.

However, online retail sales grew 4.8 per cent in August, though this is the lowest since the Monitor started collecting data in October 2008.

Stephen Robertson, director general for the British Retail Consortium, said: “There’s no evidence here of any Olympic boost to retail sales overall. Sadly, apart from April - distorted by Easter timings - August saw the worst sales growth this year.

“Hot weather and the Olympics did help sales of party food and drink but that was more than offset by a really weak performance for non-food goods.

“It’s clear people were absorbed by the magnificent Olympics and had little interest in shopping, especially for major items. Television took much more of people’s attention than is usual at this time of year and even those still on PCs and mobile devices were more likely to be following the Games than shopping.”

KPMG’s head of retail Helen Dickinson added: “Retailers’ hopes that the Olympics would inspire a pickup in spending were dashed as shoppers stayed away from the High Street and enjoyed the sporting spectacle from their armchairs. While, without doubt, the Olympics brought a much-needed boost to consumer confidence, the country was ‘otherwise engaged’ in August and the sales figures show a mixed picture. 

“Those areas of spending which are most discretionary suffered, with women’s clothing, furniture, flooring and home related items hit the hardest.

“However, it could have been much worse. August is traditionally a weak month for sales and it’s really the next three months that will have a critical impact on retailers’ profitability. The challenge remains to accurately forecast outcomes in such a volatile trading environment.”

Check back on ToyNews tomorrow for a closer look at how the toy trade handled Olympics products.

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