Sep.04 - The British Retail Consortium says the London Olympics failed to boost sales as hoped last month, with households preferring to watch the games rather than go shopping, giving stores one of their worst months of 2012. Ciara Sutton reports.
The UK may have struck gold at the London Olympics, but games fever didn't reach the retail sector. The British Retail Consortium says like-for-like sales fell by 0.4 percent, with August being one of the worst months this year. BRC director general Stephen Robertson says online activity was particularly hurt. SOUNDBITE: BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM DIRECTOR GENERAL, STEPHEN ROBERTSON, SAYING: "Online we have seen 10 to 20 percent growth every month for several years. August turned in a very miserable under five percent growth. So clearly we are seeing that everyone was absolutely transfixed by those games, and shopping didn't get near the top of their list." There was some appetite though - warm weather over the Olympic period helped sales of party food and drink. But that was more than offset by weak performance for non-food goods. And the poor summer results could cast a cloud over the forthcoming festive period. SOUNDBITE: BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM DIRECTOR GENERAL, STEPHEN ROBERTSON, SAYING: "Retailers cannot expect strong growth figures. We've seen how retailers have responded, they've cut prices. Now cutting prices is good news for shoppers but it means margins are particularly thin. So it is critical as we run up to Christmas, and it is just round the corner, lots of retailers are now thinking about what sort of stock levels they'll need for Christmas. I suspect they are going to be quite cautious." The government, under pressure to boost the economy as its austerity drive becomes increasingly unpopular, had been hoping for an increase in consumer spending to support growth. But no amount of Olympic cheer seemed able to outweigh the mounting worries about the economy. Ciara Sutton, Reuters.