Massive Retail Sales drop could hit Contract offers

The Director General of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Stephen Robertson, said that \”This is the worst drop in total sales since we first collected these figures in 1995. Non-food retailers were particularly hard-hit. This is strong evidence of the pressure customers and traders are under. This year\’s later Easter is a factor but this fall goes way beyond anything that can be explained by that alone. Mounting fuel and utility costs, falling house prices, higher VAT and the prospect of more tax rises and job losses left people unwilling to spend unless they really had to. These pressures aren\’t going away and the arrival of higher National Insurance is likely to compound them in the immediate future.\”

The Head of Retail at KPMG, Helen Dickenson, said that \”We have seen an emergence of new, lower spending patterns since the middle of January, which are currently continuing to trend downwards. Many retailers will not be able to sustain this ongoing weakness in demand beyond the short-term and are hoping for some good news around the extended bank holiday period and a feel-good factor driven by the royal wedding.\”

It will now be interesting to see how future JobMarket Surveys (conducted by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG) react to the drop. Confidence has been high over the last few months following two good quarters which saw substantial improvement in the private sector labour market. The positive private sector has been contrasted by a dour public sector with substantial job cuts forecasted. The Banking and Finance sectors in particular have seen a substantial rebound in fortunes with a great number of high level contract offers being made over the last few months. Now that banks are back on an even keel many are keen to push ahead with new projects or to get their houses in order following the introduction of new banking regulations.

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