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Reuters reports that the British retailers reported a sharp fall in annual sales last month, but less of a decline than in April, after some COVID-19 restrictions eased and more shoppers went online, industry data showed on Tuesday:

BRC

  • British retail consortium May total sales -5.9% YoY vs April -19.1% pct YoY, second-biggest fall since records began in 1995.
  • British retail consortium May like-for-like sales +7.9% YoY vs April +5.7% YoY, excluding temporarily closed stores and including online sales.
  • Barclaycard UK may consumer spending -26.7% YoY vs April -36.5% YoY.
  • BRC says weak consumer confidence and social distancing likely to limit sales when non-essential stores reopen on June 15.

key notes

The British Retail Consortium said total retail spending at its members – mostly large chains – was 5.9% lower than a year earlier, compared with a record 19.1% drop in April, when almost all non-essential stores were closed.

Last month’s fall was still the second-biggest drop since the survey started in 1995, and the BRC said sales in May 2019 had been weaker than normal too.

Nonetheless, the figures fit with other survey data that has shown some business recovery since April when coronavirus lockdown restrictions had their greatest effect.

Official data showed a record 18% annual fall in retail spending, excluding fuel, in April. 

Online spending for non-food items was up by a record 60% on a year earlier – though the BRC warned this did not necessarily mean customers would flock back to the high street when non-essential stores are allowed to reopen on June 15.

“Weak consumer confidence and social distancing rules are likely to hold back sales,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

Description of the British Retail Consortium 

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) Like-For-Like Retail Sales measures changes in the actual value of retail sales from participating companies with invaluable management information on a regular and reliable basis. It shows the performance of the retail sector. A high reading is seen as positive (or bullish) for the GBP, while a low reading is seen as negative.

Market implications

Not a good prospect for GBP crosses on the whole, yet cable edged higher 0.13% to 1.2739.

Expert score

5

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