Doom and Gloom in June as UK Retail Sales Slide 3.9%

28 July 2008

LONDON: Credit-crunch driven consumer despondency – now in metastasis thanks to its avid dramatisation both by the media and City of London haruspices – drove down UK non-food retail sales by 3.9% in June.

The slide is the steepest monthly decline since the Office for National Statistics began charting the health of Britain's retail sector in 1986.

Curiously, the plunge follows an unexpected 3.6% upsurge in May – or maybe the NSO's volatile number crunchers got it wrong again and the data have just averaged-out?

Another oddity is that none of the usual rent-a-quotes seem to be mulling a correlation between the plunge in bricks-and-mortar sales and the rise and rise of UK e-tailing.

Matthew Sharratt, an economist at Bank of America, is one of the horde who appear not to have considered this possibility.

"Official data on retail spending now better reflects the reality of a sharply moderating economy in our view," he said.

And as if to prove that the haruspices' prescience matches their stratospheric salaries, Capital Economics' Vicky Redwood consulted her crystal ball.

"We think that spending growth will weaken considerably further, as house prices keep falling and inflation and unemployment rise further," she revealed.

Who'd have thought it?

Data sourced from BBC Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff