Responding to the latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures, which showed an 0.3% decrease in overall sales (non-seasonally adjusted retail sales excluding fuel: J3L2), Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:
“There was no Christmas cheer for retail as the industry found itself in the firing line for last minute coronavirus restrictions. Non-food stores continued to suffer the brunt of these restrictions, with large non-food stores once again seeing double digit declines. Sales of clothing and footwear both failed to see a much-needed uptick in sales after months of losses. Last minute Christmas restrictions deprived shops of much needed sales, and even food sales growth slowed significantly.
“With no end in sight for retailers closed in lockdown, many will struggle to survive under a mounting rent burden, and a return to full business rates in April. The Government should urgently announce an extension to the moratorium on aggressive debt enforcement and offer targeted business rates relief to the worst-affected businesses. Decisive action is needed to save jobs, shops and local communities, with town and city centres looking to be particularly hard hit unless the Government acts now.”