Ipsos Retail Performance. Blog.

No respite for UK retail during another tough month

High Street
  • Non-food store footfall fell by -12.8% in April year-on-year.
  • The decline in year-on-year in-store sales in non-food retailing worsened in the three months leading up to April, resulting in sales falling -4.9% on a like-for-like basis.
  • Non-food retail prices in April dropped by -2.2% year-on-year, compared to -1.8% in March.

Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance said:

“Once again, April proved to be another tough month for non-food retailers on the UK high street. With Easter falling wholly within the month last year, weak comparisons between this April and last were always on the cards.

“That said, we cannot ignore the fact that the direction of travel in footfall, sales and prices is continuing to head belligerently in the wrong direction. In the case of in-store sales, the three month trend fell to its lowest level since records began in January 2013, constrained by a marginal fall in prices, and a footfall deficit that widened by -2.1%. Sadly, online sales failed to make up the difference, with total sales trend in the non-food sector falling back by -0.6% in April from March, to -1.6%.

“The big question is when will the recent return to real wage growth begin to impact on demand and reverse the decline in retail sales and footfall? Though it turned positive in February, for the first time since January 2017, the surplus still remains very low in historical terms. With most economic indicators softening in the last month or so, the Bank had little choice but to keep the base rate where it was this month.

“Retailers are in a tricky place and have little choice but to continue to discount, reflected in the -0.3% fall in non-food prices in April over March. Though the inflationary pressures from currency depreciation have worked their way through the pipeline, impending rises in oil and elsewhere continue to keep severe pressure on margins. At a time when the industry is needing to accelerate its investment in technological development, the script remains conspiratorial.”

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