High street roundup: Retail sales fall as 72 Blockbusters close

UK retail sales fell 0.7% last month. Meanwhile Blockbuster's administrator plans to close 72 stores.

by Elizabeth Anderson

Once again, the British weather is causing problems for retailers. According to the Office for National Statistics, UK retail sales volumes fell 0.7% in October as mild weather hit sales of winter clothing. How do stores manage in countries which have real weather?

The month-on-month fall came as something of a surprise as many economists expected sales to stay unchanged. Clothing sales were worst affected, with sales falling 2.8%, while food and petrol sales also suffered.

However, compared to last year overall retail sales volumes were up 1.8%, suggesting a welcome pickup in consumer confidence, the ONS said. Others have also speculated that shoppers are saving their pennies before a Christmas spending spree.

The results came as administrators confirmed the closure of 72 Blockbuster stores. More than 450 jobs will be lost, as efforts to turnaround the struggling film rental chain prove more difficult than thought. Blockbuster has been hit hard by intense competition from supermarkets and online film streaming and is struggling to entice people back into the 264 stores it currently runs.

Administrators Moorfields Corporate Recovery said: ‘This has not been an easy decision to make and we acknowledge that, with Christmas on the horizon, this will be extremely upsetting news to a large number of people most of all those affected by the store closures.’

However, the firm said it was necessary if ‘parts of Blockbuster are to be saved and a buyer found.’

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