Retailers have suffered their worst year on record as overall sales fell for the first time, according to the latest figures.
Total retail sales over the year fell by 0.1 per cent compared with 1.2 per cent growth in 2018 - the first recorded decrease - reflecting ongoing dire conditions for the sector, the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “2019 was the worst year since our records began in 1995 and the first year to show an overall decline in retail sales. This was also reflected in the CVAs, shop closures and job losses that the industry suffered in 2019.
“Twice the UK faced the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, as well as political instability that concluded in a December general election - further weakening demand for the festive period.”
Combining November and December together to iron out Black Friday distortions - the sales event fell in December this year rather than November in 2018 - total sales were down 0.9 per cent compared with the same period a year ago.
Over the three months to December, non-food retail sales fell by 1.4 per cent on a total basis.
Insolvency figures from Deloitte showed that 124 UK retailers entered administration in 2019 compared to 125 in 2018. This was despite December seeing a significant year-on-year increase in retail administrations with 11 taking place in 2019, compared to seven in 2018.
Deloitte’s research also showed the number of retailers entering into Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) decreased by 24 per cent from 38 in 2018 to 29 in 2019.
Clare Boardman, restructuring services partner at Deloitte in Yorkshire, said: “Whilst the number of retail administrations has remained broadly flat on 2018, we have seen an increase in the number of large retailers entering into administration this year.”