Retail sales growth half pre-Lehman levels, says BRC
Retail sales growth is now averaging half what it was in the years before the Lehman Brothers collapse according to data released by the British Retail Consortium.
The organisation, which has published figures to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the bank's failure, says that the impact of the global financial crisis on UK retailers has been severe and long lasting.
On the day that business secretary Vince Cable is due to address Liberal Democrats at their party conference, the BRC is calling on the government to help restore consumer confidence by controlling the costs it imposes on households and businesses. The BRC’s suggested measures include scrapping the postponed fuel duty increase due in January and freezing Business Rates in 2013.
Figures released by the BRC show that year-on-year growth in the total value of retail sales has averaged 2.1% over the last two years compared with growth of 4.5% over an equivalent period before the financial crisis. With like-for-like sales value growth hovering around zero over the last two years and consumer spending having fallen for three quarters in a row, the BRC says that the consumer sector has led the economy into a double dip recession.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson explained: "Four years on from this key event in the banking crisis, which sent retail sales plummeting, sales growth is still less than half what it was before. Sales volumes are now going backwards.
"Representing over 5% of GDP and more than 10% of jobs, retail is a vital part of the UK economy and a key indicator of its health. Retail is fundamentally resilient. It's still the biggest private sector employer in the country but this analysis vividly demonstrates the lasting blow dealt to households and to retail sales by the crisis of 2008."
Robertson added: "Any successful economic fight back needs a return to strength for the retail sector. It's not enough just to talk about growth. We need the government to rebuild confidence, support customers and retailers and get spending going again by holding back the costs it is responsible for.
"Scrapping the postponed fuel duty rise, now due in January, and freezing Business rates next year are top of my list."
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