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Olympics fail to boost retail sales in Britain, survey

09-04-2012 23:15 BJT

LONDON, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Britain's retail sales were weak in August as the feel good factor from the Olympics failed to inspire spending, said the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on Tuesday.

Retail sales values in Britain dropped 0.4 percent in August from the same period of last year, showed a BRC survey report.

Excluding the Easter anomaly, these were the lowest since November 2011, driven by particularly weak non-food sales as the feel good factor from the Olympics failed to inspire spending, the BRC said.

Stephen Robertson, Director General of British Retail Consortium, said: "There's no evidence here of any Olympic boost to retail sales overall. Sadly, apart from April - distorted by Easter timings - August saw the worst sales growth this year."

There was a mild boost to food sales in the form of party food and drink, but the net effect of the Games was minimal as lower footfall in London was offset by a better performance in the rest of the country.

The most noticeable impact from the Olympics was felt online which saw growth of just 4.8 percent in August - the lowest since the Monitor started collecting data on this in October 2008.

"Hot weather and the Olympics did help sales of party food and drink but that was more than offset by a really weak performance for non-food goods," said Robertson.

"It's clear people were absorbed by the magnificent Olympics and had little interest in shopping, especially for major items."

Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail with the KPMG, said: "Retailers' hopes that the Olympics would inspire a pickup in spending were dashed as shoppers stayed away from the high street and enjoyed the sporting spectacle from their armchairs."

"However, it could have been much worse. August is traditionally a weak month for sales and it's really the next three months that will have a critical impact on retailers' profitability. The challenge remains to accurately forecast outcomes in such a volatile trading environment."

Separate figures, compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC), suggested the proportion of shops lying empty increased in every region in Britain bar London between January and June.

An average of 14.6 percent of shops now remain empty across Britain, according to the LDC.

It said a dramatic drop in consumer spending, higher online sales and retail space expansion were to blame for the high vacancy rate.

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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