Bira reassured by new UK retail sales figures

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has responded to new figures recently released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the UK retail sales rebound in January.

The report has highlighted how sales on the high street have rebounded by 1.9% last month as shoppers returned after the disruption of the Omnicron variant. The statistics show that department stores, garden centres and other non-food shops have been a strong growth, with a 3.4% rise, however food sales have fallen to pre-pandemic levels. Sales in December saw a 4% fall following new pandemic restrictions.

In response to the ONS report, Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “We are pleased to see a rise in retail sales in January and it is also reassuring to see online sales decline (down to 25% of retail sales). This is further evidence that people are reminding themselves of the benefits of shopping on high streets.

“However, it is important that we avoid the trap of thinking that all is well on the High Street. The squeeze on the cost of living and the increasing costs of running a business are a real threat to any recovery. Consumer confidence is fragile and more needs to be done to address the financial pressures faced by the public and businesses alike. There is a Spring statement from the chancellor in March and it is an opportunity to reverse the proposed increase on business rates for small businesses this year.”

The British Independent Retailers Association supports over 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes. The organisation offers its members business benefits from free legal advice to preferential card rates, business banking to specialist insurance, tax accountants to music.

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