UK Retailers say Sales hit by Olympics
Amidst the generally optimistic feeling as the Olympics got under way last month here in London, and indeed whilst the Paralympics are currently under way, there was one group of Londoners who weren't feeling the joy.
I wrote last month about how many businesses were feeling the pinch this summer. It all seemed rather counter-intuitive. Surely with millions of people descending on London it would be a bumper time for the capitals shops and restaurants.
The reality however appeared to be different, as retailers told of shoppers being scared off by Transport for London warnings of mass congestion and crammed streets. When that failed to materialize it left central London with an eerily quiet feel.
Figures published this week from the British Retail Consortium provide statistical support to the feelings expressed last month. They reveal that retail sales in August fell 0.4% compared to August 2011.
What's more, if you exclude the Easter period of this year, it was the weakest month since November 2011. Certainly not the bonanza many had hoped for.
"The feel good factor from the Olympics failed to inspire spending," the BRC said.
Interestingly though, online shopping didn't pick up the slack, a sign that people weren't turning to the web to avoid the expected crush on the high street.
Online shopping grew 4.8% in August, the lowest increase since the BRC started collecting the data in October 2008.
"There's no evidence here of any Olympic boost to retail sales overall," said BRC director general Stephen Robertson.
"Hot weather and the Olympics did help sales of party food and drink but that was more than offset by a really weak performance for non-food goods."
Shops in central London saw a sharp drop in visitors during the Olympic Games.
The BRC acknowledged this, but said that the net effect of the Games was minimal as "lower footfall in London was offset by a better performance in the rest of the country".