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Retail sales at lowest level since 2021

Statistics have indicated that high living costs and poor weather conditions have affected spending

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According to the ONS two-thirds of adults are spending less on non-essentials due to the cost-of-living

Information from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that products sold last month fell to the lowest level since February 2021, during which many parts of the UK were in lockdown.

Forecasts from the Bank of England show that the country is predicted to achieve zero growth until 2025, with fears of a recession still looming.

According to the ONS people are currently paying 16.9% more to buy 3.1% less than they did in February 2020, demonstrating the impact of the cost-of-living.

The performance of the retail industry can have a massive impact on print and sign producers as a large proportion of work like point-of-sale displays and bespoke packaging can be impacted by the budgets and ROI of retailers.

Spending habits of customers can also generally give an indication to general consumer habits and trends within consumer and business spending.

Commenting on the latest ONS figures, Lisa Hooker, leader of Industry for Consumer Markets at PwC, says: "Inflation may have eased in October, but consumers have yet to use their increased spending power to hit the shops, with retail sales volumes excluding petrol falling by 2.4% compared with last year, and even falling compared with an already disappointing September.”

Recently the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) released survey data that showed many print businesses are anticipating stable or loss of earnings in the last quarter of the year, despite the boost of seasonal work.

Hooker adds: “November normally provides better news for retailers with the arrival of Black Friday. However, with our research telling us that the cost-of-living crisis will mean £1.5bn less spent on the event, the omens for the sector appear finely balanced. 

“We know from earlier in the year that in tough times consumers prioritise special events and family occasions, so retailers will be hoping that consumers are keeping their powder dry for a last-minute Christmas spending surge come December."

Many brands will use digital out-of-home (DOOH) providers like Clear Channel to advertise at busy times of the year

PwC’s annual Black Friday survey shows that interest in Black Friday has dropped from 61% in 2022 to 44% in 2023.

Many of those asked have cited cutting back or a lack of money as a reason for not spending money this Black Friday. 

However, analysis so far suggest that this year’s Black Friday is on track to be quite successful according to commentary to Nationwide Building Society. 

In a statement to The Independent, Mark Nalder from Nationwide, said: “Bargain hunters are already out in force with the number of transactions made by 9am up 15% compared to the same period on Black Friday last year.”

Many retailers and brands have pushed their sales and products this season in a year less held back by the constraints of the pandemic and energy prices.

This week’s Autumn Statement by chancellor Jeremy Hunt has left a lot of businesses with more hope for the new year, especially considering some of the new schemes and tax breaks available to businesses and manufacturers.

The Independent Print Industries Association (IPIA) acknowledged the one-year extension to the existing 75% business rates relief for retail, hospitality, and leisure, commenting: “This will support a key breadbasket print buying sector and hopefully work to uncork marketing investment.”

As many businesses generate a large proportion of income over the next weeks and others wind down ahead of the new year, a clearer picture of business performance will become evident in February 2024.

If you’d like to share news or opinions with us feel free to email at news@signlink.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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