Economy

Bira welcomes sales rise, but warns ‘all is not well’

Statistics have shown that department stores, garden centres and other non-food shops have seen a strong growth, with a 3.4% rise, however food sales have fallen to pre-pandemic levels

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has said it is “pleased to see a rise in retail sales”, but warned retailers against “falling into the trap of thinking all is well”.

It was commenting on the recently released figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the UK retail sales rebound in January, which highlighted how sales on the High Street have rebounded by 1.9% last month as shoppers returned after the disruption of the Omnicron variant.

The statistics have shown that department stores, garden centres and other non-food shops have seen a strong growth, with a 3.4% rise, however food sales have fallen to pre-pandemic levels.

Sales in December saw a 4% fall following new pandemic restrictions.

In response to this report, Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre, said: “We are pleased to see a rise in retail sales in January, and is also reassuring to see on-line sales decline (down to 25% of retail sales). This is further evidence that people are reminding themselves of the benefits of shopping on high streets.

“However, it is important that we avoid the trap of thinking that all is well on the High Street. The squeeze on the cost of living and the increasing costs of running a business are a real threat to any recovery. Consumer confidence is fragile and more needs to be done to address the financial pressures faced by the public and businesses alike. There is a Spring statement from the chancellor in March and it is an opportunity to reverse the proposed increase on business rates for small businesses this year.”

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