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Deloitte comments on ONS retail sales

19 January 2024

Commenting on today’s ONS retail sales figures, Oliver Vernon-Harcourt, head of retail at Deloitte, said:  

“December’s retail sales results are well below what retailers would have been expecting in what is typically the biggest shopping month of the year. This significant drop sees sales fall to the lowest level since January 2021, which will be a significant blow to retailers across all categories. This paints a challenging picture for retail in the near future, in a sign that cautious consumers are feeling the long-term effects of a strain on their spending power.

“2024 may be a tale of two halves, with mortgage rates set to rise further and inflation continuing to fluctuate. The first half of the year will remain challenging for consumers, whose spending is hindered by rising rates and economic uncertainty. However, the second half could be a more positive story, with the impacts of wage increases, reduced national insurance and falling inflation felt more widely by consumers.

“Despite this varied outlook, retailers will want to capitalise on improving consumer confidence, with many looking to attract customers by investing in hybrid experiences across in-store and online. Likewise, many will continue to invest in both premium and value products, as well as targeted product lines that cater to a diverse range of consumers.”