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The ‘feel bad factor’: Washout retail sales won’t help Tory prospects – London Business News | Londonlovesbusiness.com

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Having called a snap general election, the Government was probably hoping for some timely feel-good economic indicators.

If so, the home delivery expert Parcelhero says the Conservatives will be disappointed with April’s -2.3% collapse in monthly retail sales volumes.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) retail figures also reveal a year-on-year tumble of -2.7%, compared to April 2023.

Parcelhero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., said, ‘Ouch! If the Government was hoping for some “feel-good” news from a buoyant High Street to bolster its campaign, this is the opposite. The quantity of items we all bought tumbled -2.3% in April over the preceding month. Clothing, sports equipment, toy and furniture stores bore the brunt of a sharp decline in High Street shopping.

‘Not only did we buy less but we also spent less. Compared to March, the amount we spent fell by -2.5% (excluding fuel). Nor was there any crumb of comfort in online sales. While the High Street’s loss is often e-commerce’s gain, that wasn’t the case last month. The amount we spent online fell by -1.2% during April compared to March and by -1.5% year-on-year. It’s true that online did improve its share of overall retail spending from 26.2% to 26.5%, but that simply reflects the High Street’s proportionate fall.

‘The ONS says retailers blamed poor weather and corresponding low footfall as the main reasons for the sales slump. That’s cold comfort for the Government, which will be looking for the first green shoots of summer spending, reflecting improving confidence in the economy. Admittedly, April was excessively soggy, receiving 155% of average rainfall. However, were the rain solely to blame, we would have seen a corresponding increase in online spending as shoppers splashed the cash from home. That didn’t happen.

‘Even more alarmingly for a Government looking for signs of a rise in consumer confidence, the amount we all bought on the High Street was actually down on pre-Covid levels by -3.8%. Clearly, we are not convinced our household finances have turned the corner.

‘May’s retail sales figures will be released on 21 June, around two weeks before the general election. We can be sure Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be hoping for better sales and signs that the “feel-good” factor is returning to consumers, or the retail omens look bleak for his prospects of another term in office.

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