Figures released from the Office for National Statistics today show the value of retail sales in May 2011 increased by 3.8% on May 2010, while sales volumes increased by 0.2% on the same period.
Barry Knight, head of retail at Grant Thornton UK, said: “On the surface these figures may appear as good news, but if you strip out the inflation rate of 3.8%, the value increase in real terms actually equates to 0%. The increase in the headline figure will have been largely down to internet sales rather than an actual increase in footfall. As such, the high street will be under significantly more pressure than the figures suggest. Those retailers who have yet to get their physical outlet strategy right will be suffering particularly.
“It is also significant petrol prices are now 30% higher than they were at this period last year at most big providers’ pumps. With the use of one tank per week, the increase means the consumer is £15 out of pocket compared to last year. This will no doubt hurt in the coming months and put further strain on an already troubled consumer purse,” Knight said.