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Olympics failed to boost August retail sales

Retailers were left disappointed in August as a much hoped for boost in sales during the Olympic Games failed to materialise.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Olympics failed to boost August retail sales

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium showed that retail sales values were down by 0.4% in August on a like-for-like basis from August 2011, when they were down 0.6% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 1.6%, against a 1.5% rise in August 2011.

Excluding Easter, it was the weakest month since November 2011 driven by low non-food sales as the feelgood factor from the Olympics failed to inspire spending.

There was a minor boost to food sales in the form of party food and drink, but the BRC said the net effect of the Games was minimal as lower footfall in London was offset by a better performance in the rest of the country.

The most noticeable impact from the Olympics was online with growth of just 4.8% in August, the lowest since the Monitor started collecting data on this in October 2008.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, 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.
 
"As summer gives way to the all-important Christmas run-up, retailers will be hoping sales that didn't happen in August have been postponed and not lost entirely."

Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, 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.

"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."

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