Christmas Cheer In Short Supply For UK Retailers

 

- Retail sales disappoint as Christmas boost fails to materialise 

- Shoppers reign back on gifts as amidst cost-of-living crisis 

- Falling real incomes, high mortgage costs dent sentiment 

 

 

By Harry Daniels       

LiveSquawk News       

@HarryDaniels71       

      

20 January 2022 | 12:00 GMT      

  

  

LONDON – Poor sales figures over the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year epitomised a tough year for retailers as shoppers were forced to prioritise spending in the middle of a massive inflationary wave.   

 

The Office for National Statistics said December headline UK retail sales fell 1.0% on the month, a major miss versus the expected 0.5% increase and well under the downwardly revised -0.5% mark in November. Annually, sales fell 5.8%, which was well below the forecast of a 4.1% decline and last month’s decrease of 5.7%.   

 

Excluding fuel, monthly sales dropped an outsized 1.1% in December compared with an expected rise of 0.4% and November’s 0.3% decrease. On the year, sales were off 6.1%, worse than expectations of a 4.4% decline and below November’s upwardly revised slide of 5.6%.   

 

Sales volumes currently sit 1.7% below pre-coronavirus (Covid-19) February levels. 

 

Heather Bovill, ONS deputy director for surveys and economic indicators said, “Retail sales dropped again in December with feedback suggesting consumers cut back on their Christmas shopping due to affordability concerns.   

 

“After last month’s boost as shoppers stocked up early, food sales fell back again in December with supermarkets reporting this was due to increased food prices and the rising cost of living.”  

 

The underlying trend remains downbeat as sales in the three months to December sank 5.7% from the same period a year ago.   

 

The cost of living and strike action take the blame

Elizabeth Martins, senior economist at HSBC, said, “There’s been a lot of optimism in financial markets at the start of 2023 – which is of course to be welcomed. But these numbers bring us back down to earth.” 

 

As the cost of items most goods and services rise, so the amount bought appears to have fallen, creating an unwelcome divergence. Statisticians reported shop feedback that suggests consumers were cutting back on spending because of increased prices and affordability concerns. 

 

“For UK consumers, real incomes are still falling. And while inflation has started to drop back, many households are looking ahead to another rise in their cost of living not captured by the CPI index – namely, the cost of re-fixing their mortgage at a considerably higher rate,” Martins explained.  

 

The proportion of online sales fell to 25.4% in December from 25.9% in November, with anecdotal evidence that Royal Mail strikes led to consumers shopping in stores more. ONS estimates are seasonally adjusted, meaning they account for effects such as Cyber Monday and spending over the Christmas period. 

 

Gloomy mood persists for shoppers.

Released ahead of the national data, the GfK consumer confidence index fell in January with a three points decline to -45, breaking a three month mini uptrend with four out of the five measures down in comparison to December’s report.  

 

Joe Staton, client strategy director at the organisation said, “After a short-lived and weak rally in Q4 last year, UK consumer confidence has slipped to -45 in January. Consumers have a New Year hangover – but it’s of the economic kind – with high levels of pessimism over the state of the wider economy. And unlike a conventional hangover, this one won’t vanish quickly.” 

 

/*jshint esversion: 6 */ var socket; var assigned_server = 3001; var distributor_server = 3010; var publisher_channel = ''; var broadcaster_channel = ''; var remote_ip = ''; var session_info = {}; var logging_interval; var logging_interval_time = 120000; var socket_emits = 0; var session_start_time; var reconnectionDelayGrowFactor = 1.2; var reconnection_delay = 1000; var playing = false; var connected_to_assigned = false; var socket_close_timeout; self.onmessage = function (msg) { switch(msg.data.action) { case 'Reactivate': reactivate(); break; case 'ConnectDistributor': connect_to_distributor(msg); break; case 'SessionStaticInfo': session_static_info(msg); break; case 'SessionInfo': update_session_info(msg.data); break; case 'PauseLogging': clearTimeout(logging_interval); break; case 'RestartLogging': postMessage({action: 'RequestSessionStaticInfo' }); break; case 'JoinPublisherChannel': join_publisher_channel(msg.data); break; case 'JoinPlayerChannel': join_player_channel(msg.data); break; case 'CheckChannelStatus': check_channel_status(msg.data); break; case 'PlayerLogResponse': player_log_response(msg.data); break; case 'CloseSocket': close_socket(); break; } }; function reactivate() { playing = false; connect_to_assigned_server(); } function player_log_response(data) { var data_array = {}; data_array.type = 'PlayerLogResponse'; data_array.respond_to_socket_final = data.respond_to_socket_final; data_array.respond_to_socket = data.respond_to_socket; data_array.player_socket_id = data.player_socket_id; data_array.logs = data.logs; var msg_string = JSON.stringify(data_array); if (socket.readyState == 1) { socket.send(msg_string); } } function check_channel_status(data) { var data_array = {}; data_array.type = 'check_channel_status'; data_array.app_name = data.app_name; var msg_string = JSON.stringify(data_array); if (socket.readyState == 1 && connected_to_assigned) { socket.send(msg_string); } else { setTimeout(function() { check_channel_status(data); },500); } } function check_channel_status_response(data) { postMessage({ action: 'CheckChannelStatusReponse', stream_status: data.stream_status.status, onair: data.stream_status.onair, connected: data.stream_status.connected }); } function join_publisher_channel(data) { var data_array = {}; data_array.type = 'join_publisher_channel'; data_array.publisher_channel = data.publisher_channel; data_array.username = data.username; data_array.subscriber_group = data.subscriber_group; data_array.display_name = data.display_name; data_array.single_sign_on = data.single_sign_on; data_array.remote_ip = data.remote_ip; data_array.http_referrer = data.http_referrer; data_array.current_page = data.current_page; data_array.php_session_id = data.php_session_id; var msg_string = JSON.stringify(data_array); if (socket.readyState == 1) { socket.send(msg_string); } postMessage({action: 'PublisherChannelJoined' }); } function session_static_info(msg) { set_static_session_info(msg.data); start_log(); } function connect_to_distributor(msg) { publisher_channel = msg.data.publisher_channel; remote_ip = msg.data.remote_ip; socket = new WebSocket("wss://ws.livesquawk.com/ws"+distributor_server); socket.onopen = function(event) { request_server_assignment(); }; socket.onmessage = function(event) { var msg_string = event.data.toString(); var data = JSON.parse(msg_string); switch(data.type) { case 'server_assignment_response': server_assignment_response(data); break; } }; } function session_info_interval() { postMessage({action: 'RequestSessionInfo' }); logging_interval = setTimeout(session_info_interval,logging_interval_time); } function server_assignment_response(data) { assigned_server = data.selected_server; socket.close(); connect_to_assigned_server(); } function request_server_assignment() { var data_array = {}; data_array.type = 'request_server_assignment'; var msg_string = JSON.stringify(data_array); if (socket.readyState == 1) { socket.send(msg_string); } } function connect_to_assigned_server() { socket = new WebSocket("wss://ws.livesquawk.com/ws"+assigned_server); socket.onopen = function(event) { postMessage({ action: 'VisibleConsole',console_string: "Connected to server "+assigned_server }); console.log("Connected to server "+assigned_server); postMessage({ action: 'ConnectedToAssigned' }); connected_to_assigned = true; if (playing) { postMessage({ action: 'RejoinPlayerChannel' }); } }; socket.onmessage = function(event) { var msg_string = event.data.toString(); var data = JSON.parse(msg_string); if (data.type != 'server_ping') { /* console.log(data.type); */ } switch(data.type) { case 'reconnect': postMessage({ action: 'VisibleConsole',console_string: "Reconnected" }); break; case 'reload': postMessage({ action: 'Reload' }); break; case 'start_log_response': start_log_response(data); break; case 'application_refresh_start': application_refresh_start(data); break; case 'application_refresh_stop': application_refresh_stop(data); break; case 'player_log_request': case 'check_channel_status_response': check_channel_status_response(data); break; case 'PlayerLogRequest': case 'new_tweet': case 'new_latest_news': case 'delete_report': case 'add_report': case 'add_ref_doc': case 'calendar_change': case 'calendar_insert': case 'calendar_delete': case 'new_note': case 'AppStart': case 'AppStop': case 'BroadcasterStarted': case 'BroadcasterStopped': pass_straight_to_post_message(data); break; case 'output': case 'server_ping': case 'reconnect': case 'disconnect': break; } }; socket.onerror = function(event) { postMessage({ action: 'VisibleConsole',console_string: "LS Socket Error" + event.type }); console.log(event); postMessage({ action: 'LSSocketConnectionError' }); }; socket.onclose = function(event) { console.log('Socket is closed. Reconnect will be attempted in 1 second.', event.reason); socket_close_timeout = setTimeout(connect_to_assigned_server, reconnection_delay); reconnection_delay = reconnection_delay*reconnectionDelayGrowFactor; connected_to_assigned = false; }; } function close_socket() { clearTimeout(socket_close_timeout); socket_close_timeout = null; socket.onclose = function(event) {}; socket.onmessage = function(event) {}; socket.onerror = function(event) {}; socket.close(1000); console.log('Socket Closed'); } function pass_straight_to_post_message(data) { data.action = data.type; postMessage(data); } function join_player_channel(data) { var data_array = {}; data_array.type = 'join_player_channel'; data_array.player_channel = data.player_channel; data_array.remote_ip = data.remote_ip; data_array.username = data.username; data_array.app_name = data.app_name; data_array.onair_status = data.onair_status; data_array.http_referrer = data.http_referrer; data_array.current_page = data.current_page; data_array.php_session_id = data.php_session_id; var msg_string = JSON.stringify(data_array); if (socket.readyState == 1) { socket.send(msg_string); } postMessage({action: 'PlayerChannelJoined' }); playing = true; } function start_log_response(data) { session_info.session_id = data.log_record_id; session_info_interval(); } function application_refresh_start(data) { if (data.app_name == session_info.application_name) { postMessage({action: 'ApplicationRefreshStart' }); } } function application_refresh_stop(data) { if (data.app_name == session_info.application_name) { postMessage({action: 'ApplicationRefreshStop' }); } } function set_static_session_info(data) { session_info.browser_codename = data.browser_codename; session_info.browser_name = data.browser_name; session_info.user_agent = data.user_agent; session_info.browser_version = data.browser_version; session_info.cookies_enabled = data.cookies_enabled; session_info.platform = data.platform; session_info.player_version = data.player_version; session_info.stream = data.stream; session_info.connection_protocol = data.protocol; session_info.delay_target = data.delay_target; session_info.session_email = data.session_email; session_info.remote_ip = data.remote_ip; session_info.php_session_id = data.php_session_id; session_info.application_name = data.application_name; session_info.http_referrer = data.http_referrer; } function start_log() { var session_start_date = new Date(); session_start_time = session_start_date.getTime(); var months = ['Jan','Feb','Mar','Apr','May','Jun','Jul','Aug','Sep','Oct','Nov','Dec']; var session_start_date_string = session_start_date.getDate() + " " + months[session_start_date.getMonth()] + " " + session_start_date.getFullYear(); var data_array = {}; data_array.type = 'webrtc_start_log'; data_array.remote_ip = session_info.remote_ip; data_array.username = session_info.session_email; data_array.php_session_id = session_info.php_session_id; data_array.webrtc_protocol = ''; data_array.session_start_time = (session_start_time/1000).toFixed(0); data_array.stream_name = session_info.stream; data_array.session_start_date = session_start_date_string; var msg_string = JSON.stringify(data_array); if (socket.readyState == 1) { socket.send(msg_string); } } function update_session_info(data) { var data_array = {}; var msg_string = ''; var current_date = new Date(); var current_time = current_date.getTime(); session_info.protocol = data.protocol; session_info.curr_delay = (data.effective_latency / 1000).toFixed(2); session_info.session_length = current_time - session_start_time; session_info.ping_time = data.ping_time; session_info.jitter = data.jitter; session_info.packet_loss = data.packet_loss; session_info.effective_latency = data.effective_latency; session_info.mean_opinion_score = data.mean_opinion_score; session_info.restarts = data.restarts; if (socket_emits == 0) { data_array = {}; data_array.type = 'webrtc_log_data_full'; data_array.connection_protocol = session_info.protocol; data_array.threshold = 0; data_array.curr_delay = session_info.curr_delay; data_array.session_length = session_info.session_length; data_array.date = current_time; data_array.browser_codename = session_info.browser_codename; data_array.browser_name = session_info.browser_name; data_array.user_agent = session_info.user_agent; data_array.browser_version = session_info.browser_version; data_array.cookies_enabled = session_info.cookies_enabled; data_array.platform = session_info.platform; data_array.player_version = session_info.player_version; data_array.stream = session_info.stream; data_array.restarts = session_info.restarts; data_array.delay_target = 0; data_array.op_sys = ''; data_array.flash_version = ''; data_array.remote_ip = session_info.remote_ip; data_array.http_referrer = session_info.http_referrer; data_array.php_session_id = session_info.php_session_id; data_array.user_email = session_info.session_email; data_array.webrtc_protocol = session_info.protocol; data_array.ping_time = session_info.ping_time; data_array.jitter = session_info.jitter; data_array.packet_loss = session_info.packet_loss; data_array.effective_latency = session_info.effective_latency; data_array.mean_opinion_score = session_info.mean_opinion_score; data_array.session_id = session_info.session_id; msg_string = JSON.stringify(data_array); if (socket.readyState == 1) { socket.send(msg_string); } } else { data_array = {}; data_array.type = 'webrtc_log_data'; data_array.session_id = session_info.session_id; data_array.php_session_id = session_info.php_session_id; data_array.connection_protocol = session_info.protocol; data_array.restarts = session_info.restarts; data_array.threshold = 0; data_array.curr_delay = session_info.curr_delay; data_array.session_length = session_info.session_length; data_array.date = current_time; data_array.webrtc_protocol = session_info.protocol; data_array.ping_time = session_info.ping_time; data_array.jitter = session_info.jitter; data_array.packet_loss = session_info.packet_loss; data_array.effective_latency = session_info.effective_latency; data_array.mean_opinion_score = session_info.mean_opinion_score; data_array.stream = session_info.stream; msg_string = JSON.stringify(data_array); if (socket.readyState == 1) { socket.send(msg_string); } } socket_emits++; if (socket_emits == 100) { socket_emits = 0; } }