UK shoppers rein in spending to cap grim 2019 for retailers – BRC

LONDON (Reuters) – British shoppers cut back on spending in late 2019, rounding off the worst year since at least the mid-1990s for retail sales as measured by an industry group which blamed uncertainty about Brexit and last month’s election for the slump.

FILE PHOTO: People shopping on Oxford Street in central London, Britain, December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

However, another survey suggested Britons turned more confident after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s emphatic election victory on Dec. 12.

Total retail spending fell by an annual 0.9% in November and December combined, the British Retail Consortium said, lumping the two months together to smooth out volatility caused by changes in the dates of Black Friday between 2018 and 2019.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said last year was the first since the group began its records in 1995 to show a full-year fall in sales – down by 0.1% – as two missed Brexit deadlines and the election weighed on consumer confidence.

“Looking forward, the public’s confidence in Britain’s trade negotiations will have a big impact on spending over the coming year,” Dickinson said.

Johnson has said he will strike a new trade deal with the European Union before the end of this year and avoid the economic hit of tariffs and other trade barriers when a no-c


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