High streets are feeling the heat of the cost of living crisis as footfall plunges 20% below pre-Covid level Business News

High streets and shopping centers felt the heat of Britain’s cost of living crisis last week, according to grim new figures indicating the country could be heading into a recession.

The number of shopping visits fell more than 20% last week compared to the same period in 2019, polling firm Ipsos found.

The fine weather failed to attract shoppers, with footfall falling sharply in all parts of the UK.

“The high street is really starting to feel the heat of searing prices with bills piling up everywhere,” said Susannah Streeter, principal investment and market analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Buyers had helped fuel a mini-rally earlier in the year as the Covid Omicron wave waned. Attendance hit 86% of pre-Covid levels in February but has now reversed.

“Things look grimmer again as food, energy and transport costs have risen sharply, driven by the commodity chaos triggered by the invasion of Ukraine,” Ms Streeter added.

The latest figures indicate that consumer confidence remains fragile after hitting a record high this month.

Experts have suggested that the drop in attendance may also be part of an emerging trend for people to set aside budgets for experiences like parties and vacations rather than spending money on goods, especially for the House.

Furniture sales in household stores fell 0.5% in April as casual spending increased and daily thefts in the UK jumped in May by just over 350% from the same period l last year.

Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Econmics, said the full impact of weak consumer confidence had yet to be fully felt.

“Cost of living pressures will continue to escalate and may take some time to trickle down to retail sales,” Ms Gregory said.

“Household savings accumulating during the pandemic and a tight labor market mean that low consumer confidence has not weighed on sales as much as it sometimes has in the past.”

The support announced by Rishi Sunak last week will help to some extent, but real disposable income is still expected to fall by 1% on average this year, Ms Gregory said.

It came as figures showed the cost of some core supermarket ranges had jumped by 50%.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that value pasta saw the biggest increase among a basket of 30 items examined, with the price rising by half.

Crisps saw the second fastest rate of increase of the year to April with a 17% increase and a 12p increase in cash from 71p in April 2021 to 83p in April 2022 .

Five items in the supermarket core ranges increased by 15% or more.

In terms of cash, the largest price increases were measured on average for minced beef and chicken breast, which rose by 32 pence per 500g and 28 pence per 600g respectively.

However, the official statistics body found that, overall, the prices of the cheapest food items had risen at about the same rate as food prices in general.

He pointed out that the figures, which were produced after food writer Jack Monroe’s campaign, were experimental and only estimated the prices of a relatively narrow range of items.

It comes as Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports has left 25m tonnes of grain stranded in Ukraine – threatening famine in poorer countries, but with dire implications also for the UK, which depends on food imports.

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This notice was published: 2022-05-30 21:34:43

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