Good retail sales in March 2018

The British Retail Consortium reported a few days ago that March retail sales overall rose by 2.3% year on year.  They said “This is above the 3 months and 12 months moving averages of 1.8% and 1.9% respectively but is positively distorted by the timing of Easter.”


Today’s more detailed news is that sales on the High Street fell by 8.6%, with a much smaller decline in shopping centres and good rises on line. None of this has anything to do with Brexit. There is a strong trend for people to buy more on line and less in shops, probably speeded up in March by the dreadful weather.  Food sales were particularly strong In March , with a rise of 5.3%.

Some people like to report part of the retail sales story, usually quoting so called like for like in shops, to give a gloomy answer.


  1. Ian wragg
    April 16, 2018

    I was amused by LHR putting the reduction in sales due to Brexit.
    Nothing at all to do with the massive tax increases on luxury cars or the demonizing of Diesels.
    The government due to its policies has just made 1000 people redundant. Nothing at all to do with Brexit.
    We run a retail store and the weather has been the biggest problem for us.

  2. Ron Olden
    April 16, 2018

    It highly unlikely that these figures are much postively distorted by the timing of Easter.

    Only one day of the Easter break was in March and that was Good Friday. We get a Saturday every week. And this year Good Friday and Saturday were raining.

    In fact the early Easter and the bad weather was more likely to have depressed spending on various things. People will have saved their money up for the May Bank Holiday when the weather might be better.

  3. Lifelogic
    April 16, 2018

    Indeed. We clearly need less retail space in towns it needs to be converted to residential or office accommodation. Also rates need to be reduced and the council needs to stop their high parking costs and motorist mugging in towns. It is not a sensible way to raise tax (for them to usually tip down the drain on some idiocy or other).

    Shops see to becoming places where you go to look at something before ordering it on line for 30% less! Or they are internet cafes, nail bars, restaurants or hair salons it seems.

  4. English Pensioner
    April 16, 2018

    I try to buy in shops rather than on-line if I can, particularly when it come to items like clothing. But the costs are often against one and with the ever increasing council parking charges, going to the shops is frequently a non-starter.
    The main thing that concerns me about the major on-line traders is the reported working conditions for their warehouse staff. Shop staff would appear to have considerably more protection.

    1. Mad Shopper
      April 17, 2018

      Warehousing jobs have always been poorly paid. Had a couple in my time. But easy to get! Nicer supervisors too as they wanted you to stay…plus overtime as people suddenly left.

  5. Peter
    April 16, 2018

    High Street shops are dying. This is a structural shift. Parking issues and prices work against them.

    Shopping malls do not have the parking issue but bigger supermarkets are not competitive on price against discounters and a big weekly shop is being replaced by more frequent smaller trips.

    Links between the ebb and flow of retail sales and Brexit are far more tenuous.

  6. Mockbeggar
    April 16, 2018

    I’ve no doubt that sales through shops are declining in the long term, but you are right to say that the dreadful weather was a major contributory factor. My guess is that now that the weather is finally improving, sales of spring and summer clothes will see a sudden increase.

  7. Adam
    April 16, 2018

    Static, or even declining sales may be bright. Prices may be lower. The customer may already be satisfied, having all they need. Those fat might be consuming less, & healthier. Less waste: less to recycle or dispose.

    Goodness is relative. Driving a Rolls Royce signals poverty if the average owner has seven with chauffeurs.

    An EU gilded lily at any price remains worthless. We British have higher values with Brexit.

  8. Denis Cooper
    April 16, 2018

    “… not far off the outcome of one of Best for Britain’s own polls which they try to keep under wraps … “

  9. Anonymous
    April 16, 2018

    Despite unseasonable snow.

    The People’s Referendum.

    Pfff !

    So the EU Referendum wasn’t for the people then ???

    1. Anonymous
      April 16, 2018

      Alas we were warned that there would be referenda until the ‘right’ result is delivered.

      It’s the way the EU has always worked.

  10. agricola
    April 16, 2018

    Acceptable news from the retail market. Changes in the delivery of sales from shops to internet produces a period of uncertainty until we all mostly get used to buying on line and the large retail chains learn how best to respond to the change.

    The most ominous change is in the car market, and it is all down to government ineptitude. God preserve us from the ignorant among politicians and the civil service who came up with the wheeze of banning all diesel cars while ignoring technological advance. In the first three months of 2018 car sales at LRJ are down 26% and 1000 workers are being put out of work.
    It begs the question, who do these idiot politicians serve. Is it going to be a bizarre way of shifting the blame to Brexit to serve their remain culture. Whatever, they have done more damage to the economy than a wave of terrorist activity.

    1. Fedupsoutherner
      April 17, 2018

      Agree Agricola. What they have done to a brilliant company like LRJ is a disgrace. Talk about working against their own country.

  11. Narrow Shoulders
    April 16, 2018

    So with physical shops taking less money and the minimum wage rising 5% what do we think will be the trend on shop closures going forward?

    1. David L
      April 16, 2018

      Not forgetting the punitive business rates…

      1. Lifelogic
        April 17, 2018

        Indeed and even payable on empty shops that cannot find any tenants.

  12. ian
    April 16, 2018

    Global debt now at 240 trillion dollars, up from 80 trillion dollars from the year 2000 when the depression started, 160 trillion in 18 years and all western countries have to show for it, is 2% to 2.5% growth year on year and if you are a country like Greece it a lot lower than that.

    Any increase in growth over easter would be on the back of more debt, now to keep the growth rate steady over the next 18 years, one can assume that a lot more debt will be needed to keep the game going, any attempt not to increase the debt and government will fall, over next 18 years it is sure bet that debt will increase more than the 160 trillion in the last 18 years to keep western governments afloat with smoke and mirrors.

    Government debt, corporate debt, financial and nom financial and household debt all increased by three times over 18 years.

    1. Mitchel
      April 17, 2018

      There’s a good reason why the likes of Russia and China are continually buying gold and setting up supranational institutions to serve the interests of their bloc.

      Remember when the IMF used to claim it had never lost money on it’s loans-before it’s lending became politicised?

  13. agricola
    April 16, 2018

    Ref PM Statement

    Can you thank Mrs May for a very lucid and cogent statement. Apart from being very clear it had the secondary advantage of highlighting what a weak front bench the Labour party fields. They live in very unreal world and have no business aspiring to government.

  14. Beggar my neighbour
    April 16, 2018

    The question is “Has Mrs May sold out to the EU or has she sold out to the USA?”. A sale most certainly has been completed.

  15. Eh?
    April 16, 2018

    The Secretary of State and the Chancellor were in hehehehe, wordywordy, hehehe behaviour behind Mrs May as she gave her dreadful speech today in the Commons on Syria and tried answering questions.Their idea of rubbing two bits of wood together and making a hot glowy flowy thing sounds a bright idea. “But then what?” asked the Chancellor.

  16. Eh?
    April 16, 2018

    for Defence….that’s where you protect yourself from giants chucking bits of causeway at you.

  17. mancunius
    April 16, 2018

    Online sales are up because online traders are increasingly customer- and price-savvy, and high street retailers are on a hiding to nothing: where they have a genuine added value of experienced advice, they cannot offer it without risking the customer going home and buying the same object online for (inevitably) less money. ‘Loyalty’ is a fiction.
    Where High Street retailers might score is with low-ticket items (see-in-store, check for quality, buy several at a time) and with click-and-collect systems, but e.g. JL now charges a £2 click and collect fee for all orders below £30, and gives no information online as to whether the low-cost item you want is actually in any your local JL store.
    That’s a 10%-40% surcharge for a store to supply a basic kitchenware item that should be in stock, and possibly already is? I’m not a charity, just a customer.
    And yes, I know Amazon has an unfair tax advantage – why hasn’t Spreadsheet Phil sorted that out yet?

    1. mancunius
      April 16, 2018

      ‘in any of your local JL stores’.

    2. Lifelogic
      April 17, 2018

      I have seen people in book and other shops looking at the goods then ordering from Amazon at say 30% less (and delivered) on their phones & while still in the shop! Perhaps even on the shops free wifi!

  18. Mick
    April 16, 2018

    I did notice last week that nothing was said about how the pound was doing against the euro and dollar
    Off topic thank god we don’t have a labour/libdems/snp/ Welsh party in government but we do have a Maggie mark 2 in Mrs May, after watching her in Westminster today she totally ruled the debate and took no prisoners

    1. Prigger
      April 17, 2018

      She had accomplices

  19. margaret howard
    April 16, 2018

    Clutching at straws?

  20. Edward2
    April 16, 2018

    My local council doing their best to stop vehicles parking anywhere near the shops.
    Sunday used to be free now it’s not.
    Greatly increased charges in their car parks with many being cashless payment ones where you spend minutes on your phone paying by automated system.
    One department wants to encourage businesses to open in the city centre and another is doing their best to stop customers getting in.

  21. Epikouros
    April 17, 2018

    The march to purchasing more of our shopping online is seeing to the end of many bricks and mortar outlets and many more will inevitably follow. Only Canutes and Luddites will seek to halt this trend and will have the same success especially as it is people power not producers who are driving it. The latter are only facilitating it the savvy one are at least. Of course it brings with it problems in patterns of work and the abandonment of properties that are no longer fit for the purpose for which they were built. Naturally the social justice brigade are venting their anger at this affront to their perceived moral righteousness and government despising anything that interferes with its tax take(business rates) and any action that undermines its control over events is wasting time and money in an effort to reverse the trend. The latter would be far better in devising means to make changes that will allow productive use of the abandoned buildings. Being bureaucratic and lacking the information needed they have no idea how to do it and passing it over to the private sector who do have the information and the efficient means if allowed to operate without political constraints is a an anathema so will not.

    1. mancunius
      April 17, 2018

      Instead the empty shops are handed to charity empires that employ unpaid volunteers, while the charities themselves pay no tax and often very low commercial rents and rates, selling goods that are donated. Naturally that drives into bankruptcy neigbouring private enterprizes (e.g. antiquarian bookshops or clothes shops paying full market rents and high business rates of thousands of pounds a year).
      Just like low-taxed, low-waged Amazon versus store retailers, this is surely unfair competition. Laissez-faire is all very well, but a free market needs a level playing field.

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