Blog: UK retailers question latest official sales figures
Dean Best | 18 November 2011
Headlines here in the UK yesterday (17 November) described how there had been a "surprise" jump in the volume of retail sales in the country in October. The data, however, stunned UK retailers, who immediately questioned the figures.
Data from the Office for National Statistics said sales volumes increased 0.9% year-on-year, leading to a 5.4% rise in the value of sales.
The ONS said retailers had told it the increase in sales was due to pre-Christmas sales and in-store promotions.
According to the ONS, food stores saw their volumes increase by 0.3% year-on-year. Food industry commentators and executives have pointed to falling volumes for months and the ONS said the increase was the first since April.
However, the data was cast into doubt by UK retailers association The British Retail Consortium, which said the ONS had painted an "overly positive picture" of trading conditions.
The BRC said its own data had shown that sales had increased by only 1.5% in value terms in October, indicating that volumes were down once inflation was taken into account.
"Most retailers won't recognise the overly positive picture being painted by these ONS results," BRC director general Stephen Robertson said. "The reality is disposable incomes are down on a year ago and customers are cutting back."
He added: "Even food sales are suffering as people cut back or switch to cheaper brands in an effort to balance their household budgets. Stores are competing hard for what customer spending is available but consumers are overwhelmingly gloomy. Sales that happen come at the cost of reduced margins as retailers cut prices while facing higher business costs."
Robertson's comments echo those made by Dalton Philips, the chief executive of the UK's fourth-largest grocer Morrisons, earlier this week.
"It's tough out there. The consumer is feeling really bruised," Philips said. "It's going to be a tough Christmas."
Philips, however, said Morrisons was "well prepared" for one of the most competitive periods of the year and outlined a promotional push that he said would deliver savings of GBP100m.
Nevertheless, you can be sure that rivals Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's also have their sleeves rolled up, ready for battle.
The plethora of food manufacturing associations in the UK has been argued by some to be an impediment to the industry coming to a coherent position on the aftermath of Brexit and on what the sector sh...
An update on Amazon's plans for the grocery sector. The usually reticent retailer has this week poured cold water on claims it has plans for 2,000 physical grocery stores....
Ask any FMCG executive to list the trends shaking up the sector and digital and e-commerce will be pretty high on the list. Drill down into that and Amazon will be one of the subjects in the digital s...
Since Theresa May took over as UK Prime Minister in the wake of the country's referendum vote to quit the European Union, she and her ministers have been at pains not to divulge their negotiating posi...
- Wessanen's move for Spain's Biogran - analysis
- The key questions for digital strategists in 2017
- Unilever 2016 investor day - the top takeaways
- Burger King, Jollibee: foodservice focus, Nov 2016
- Whole Foods, Aldi, M&S - retail round-up, Nov 2016
- Verlinvest, China Resources invest in Oatly
- General Mills jobs to go in business revamp
- Hain Celestial appoints Nestle executive as US COO
- Chobani COO Burns to leave yogurt firm
- Nestle invests in Italian pizza production
- How Brands Are Making Our Food Healthier
- Confectionery North America (NAFTA) Industry Guide_2016
- Processed Snacks (Savory Snacks) Market in the United States - Outlook to 2020: Market Size, Growth and Forecast Analytics
- Chocolate (Confectionery) Market in Belgium - Outlook to 2020: Market Size, Growth and Forecast Analytics
- Global Dried Processed Food Market 2016-2020