Tesco reported a rise of just 0.6 per cent in like-for-like sales in the six week to 8 January 2011 on the same period 12 months ago. Halfords saw like-for-like sales fall 6.6 per cent in the last 13 weeks of 2010 compared with the same quarter in 2009.
At Dixons, like-for-like sales fell two per cent in the 12 weeks to 8 January on the year before while sales at Argos were down 4.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis during the 18 weeks to 1 January when compared with the same period of 2009.
The figures underline British Retail Consortium data released earlier this week, which showed that sales last month declined by 0.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared with December 2009.
Early and severe winter weather, including weeks of snow, has, of course, played its part in hitting sales, with shoppers either unwilling – or unable – to hit the High Streets.
But consumer confidence has also clearly taken a battering. Many workers in the public sector, where the cuts axe is set to fall in earnest this year, will be wondering whether they will have a job in a few months and Manchester City Council today gave a taste of things to come as it announced plans to slash its workforce by 2,000 – 17 per cent – to meet savings targets.
Many of those workers will not have been alone in reining in spending in the run-up to Christmas in anticipation of rainy days to come, as prices rising faster than many people’s earnings also put a squeeze on disposable income. Retailers are likely to be bracing themselves for more of what Argos sums up as “challenging and volatile” trading conditions.
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