Retail sales in the Uk fell by 1.3% in April. Yesterday figures imply a further deterioration in May. Retailers reported a worse balance between those experiencing rising sales and those with falling turnover.
The squeeze on incomes has curbed some of our spending in the shops. We also now as a nation buy more on the web and less in the stores. Love of hi tec gadgets on broadband and a love of holidays takes money away from High Street clothes shops and from homewares and other domestic goods. We are changing our spending priorities in ways which hit traditional shops, and changing the way we buy which diverts from the High Street.
Speciality shopping now for many is a less frequent outing, probably including a coffee or a some fast food as part of the half day out. The daily or weekly grocery shop may still involve driving to the local supermarket, or placing an order of the web. It does not usually mean finding a High Street with a butcher, a baker and a greengrocer.
Trying to learn more about the state of the UK economy from the retail figures requires adjustment for changing fashions, tastes and technologies. It seems that the Uk economy is growing again, but the shops on many High Streets are having to compete with other ways of spending it and other uses for our money.
It was interesting to see the EU Commission at last recognise that the continuing deep recession in parts of Euroland is unacceptable. What a pity they do not have policies to tackle the mass unemployment of young people they have helped create.