Number of High Street shoppers falls by 10% in a year: Almost £1 in every £4 spent on non-food purchases is now done online
A High Street crisis has been confirmed with a slump in shoppers and a switch to online shopping for everything from furniture to household appliances.
The number of people in the shops in December was down by 9.6 per cent on a year ago, according to footfall research by Ipsos Retail Performance.
And total store sales of all non-food products in the three months to the end of December were down by 3.7 per cent, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
As a result, almost £1 in every £4 spent on non-food purchases is now done through websites such as Amazon.
The number of people in the shops in December was down by 9.6 per cent on a year ago while total store sales excluding food were down 3.7 per cent
The BRC said the annual fall in sales through bricks and mortar outlets was the biggest it has seen since it began collecting the figures five years ago.
A separate study from accountants Deloitte found a 28 per cent increase in the number of retail businesses that went into administration in 2017 compared to 2016 – up from 92 to 118.
The Christmas trading period has been particularly difficult for some of the UK’ s most famous national chains.
Shares in Debenhams fell sharply last week on the back of poor sales and a profit warning. The pattern was repeated with Mothercare yesterday and House of Fraser is also rumoured to have had a tough Christmas.
The BRC said that while total non-food sales were down by 3.7 per cent, food stores had a bumper festive period with sales up 4.2 per cent. Consequently supermarkets, particularly the likes of Tesco and Aldi, profited from strong sales of food and drink.
The British Retail Consortium’s director general said shoppers were seeing more of their spending power used up on essential items leaving less left over for Christmas gifts
Director general of the BRC, Helen Dickinson, said: ‘The divergence between growth in sales of food and non-food has never been so stark.
‘With inflation outpacing income growth, shoppers continued to see more of their spending power absorbed by essential items, including food, leaving less left over for buying Christmas gifts.
‘That made this year’s festive period all the more nail-biting for non-food retailers, many of whom offered deep discounts in the last weeks before Christmas in the hope of something to celebrate at the end of a year.
‘These promotions came as a welcome relief for stretched households, although the late lift in sales came at the expense of margins for many retailers.’
Head of Retail at KPMG, Paul Martin, said online sales rose by 7.6 per cent in three months to the end of December.
The BRC said the annual fall in sales through bricks and mortar outlets was the biggest it has seen since it began collecting the figures five years ago
He said there was a clear divergence between the High Street and web shopping. ‘Shoppers are increasingly preferring to shop online, especially at Christmas,’ he said.
Christmas trading results are due in from retailers this week with Marks & Spencer and John Lewis publishing their figures on Thursday.
Chief Executive of the Institute for Grocery Distribution, Joanne Denney-Finch, said: ‘Food and grocery sales enjoyed another record breaking week in the run up to Christmas Day.
‘The last time we saw a noticeably stronger year-on-year uplift in December was six years ago. This rounds off a steady and consistent year for the sector, despite growth coming mainly from inflation rather than volume increases.’