Retailers see major fall in sales as online market booms

Almost all bricks-and-mortar retailers saw decreased sales in the month of December as online retailers took full advantage of the market, new figures have revealed.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the volume of items purchased in December 2018 decreased by 0.9 per cent compared to the month previous, with all sectors, disregarding food and fuel, declining.
Likewise, in the three months to December 2018, estimates in the quantity bought decreased by 0.2 per cent with a decline across all main sectors except fuel.
When looking at the whole of 2018, however, the quantity of stock bought increased by 2.7 per cent. But this still represents a slowdown in comparison with the peak of 4.7 per cent seen in 2016.
The report suggests that a boom in online sales has attributed to an overall decline on the high street. In fact, online retailing accounted for 20 per cent of total retailing in December 2018, with an overall growth of 13.9 per cent when compared to the same period the year previous.
Commenting on the report, Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), argued that the latest statistics reflect a “difficult year for the sector” and the struggles “our high street firms are currently facing”.
“Confidence among small retailers is plummeting, with pressure ramping up from employment costs, high rents and competition from large, exclusively online brands,” he said.
“One of the biggest burdens is the outdated business rates system, which is disproportionately hurting small firms. The new business rate discount announced at the Budget should give some relief, but to have an impact, Government and local authorities must make sure it reaches those that need it across the country.”
Mr Cherry added: “The Future High Streets Fund also gives an opportunity for councils to think carefully about ways to really improve their town centres. We’d encourage councils to talk to their local small businesses to get innovative ideas that will improve the public realm and create vibrant hubs at the centre of their communities.”

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