24 August 2012 10:21
The Confederation of British Industry has said that its figures show that the high street didn't receive as much of a boost from the Olympics as expected.
The survey found that 31% of retailers suffered lower sales volumes than a year ago over the first two weeks of August – a period that coincided with the Games – while 27% believed them to be higher. The study comes days after the British Retail Consortium warned that the number of shoppers fell by 2.3% in the three months to July.
The resulting balance of 3% that reported lower sales was worse than expectations and although many retailers remained hopeful of a sales bounce in September, a balance of 17% expect the business situation to deteriorate over the next three months as sentiment weakened at its fastest rate since February 2009.
Judith McKenna, chairwoman of the CBI distributive trades panel and Asda chief operating officer, said: "Although this summer's events created a mood of celebration across the nation, these figures would suggest this positivity did not extend to the high street.
"However, although retailers expect the overall business situation to worsen in the coming three months, they still expect sales to rise year on year in September."
While retail trends have generally been gloomy in recent years, the sector received a slight boost earlier this month when figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that a glut of promotions on petrol and high levels of discounting helped drive a surprise 0.3% rise in retail sales in July.
And the figure for June was revised significantly higher to 0.8% from a previous estimate of 0.1% after additional information was received from retailers.
There are hopes that some of the pressures on the sector may now be lifting as inflation falls from its peaks in September, easing the strain on shoppers' wallets.
This trend was confirmed by today's survey, with a balance of 31% of retailers reporting higher prices, its weakest reading since November 2009.