Sure it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as what some had predicted, but there is still the fact that we are now officially in the grip of a retail slowdown, according to the report out today from the Office of National Statistics.
This week we held off on writing this until the ONS released the figures that retailers had been waiting for. Unfortunately for PC and other technology retailers, the news wasn’t good.
Total sales in 2007 for non-food retailers stalled. Sales volumes in non-specialists fell by 4.3 per cent. Not since the 1990s has retail seen growth, or indeed, decline as bad as this.
Of course, it’s not as bad as it could be. People are still spending and job security is still relatively high.
Even so, after DSGi’s profit warning earlier this month, the entire channel held its collective breath.
Thankfully, the news coming from retailers and retail analysts wasn’t too bad – indeed, it was largely expected. Central London retailers started to feel the pinch this month, after several months of appearing to be immune from the economic slowdown affecting the rest of the country. The figures that did emerge showed that even though they are beginning to experience a slowdown in growth, it is still far in excess of the rest of the UK.
Even Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket, saw a slowdown in growth. However, things weren’t all bad news, with it increasing its market share within PC retail thanks to strong sales of laptops.
The other major retailers to announce their post Christmas trading updates included Comet, Argos, Woolworths, Jessops and US retailer, Best Buy.
Comet, in particular, helped the channel breathe a sigh of relief, seeing growth of four per cent between November 1st and January 8th, and like-for-like sales increasing by 0.7 per cent.
And on a side note, the Samaritans released an interesting report on Wednesday highlighting IT and retail as two of the most stressful occupations in the UK today.
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