Britain’s retailers have suffered their worst Christmas sales since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008 according to new figures published by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG.
They show that like-for-like sales dipped 0.4 per cent last month amidst tough trading conditions, heavy discounting and poor online infrastructure which failed to meet demand.
The dismal numbers came despite a media brouhaha around Black Friday, the 28 November set piece which had been designed to kick start seasonal spending early and so tempt shoppers into splashing more cash overall.
Instead it seems most merely brought forward their purchases to take advantage of the discounts. In addition the spike in demand caused many retail websites to grind to a halt under the weight of demand, fuelling concerns that products ordered may not arrive in time for the big day.
In consequence online sales rose by just 7 per cent, the slowest year-on-year pace since April 2013 and far less than the comparable figure of 19.2 per cent set the year before.
Amongst the most badly affected were Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer, all of which were hit by falling sales.