Retailers fail to keep heads above water in wettest summer on record

Stat of the day: 10.3%. The number of retailers falling into insolvency has risen by 10.3% to hit 426 in the second quarter of 2012, reveals PwC. And the soggy summer is to blame.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

It's a shame that the Yellow Bird Indian Dancers of Arizona didn't arrive a few months earlier. The Native American dance troupe was flown into London last week to execute their traditional sun dance in an attempt to keep Britain dry over the Olympics. The results have been mixed so far, but their sun-summoning antics were much too late for the hundreds of retailers driven out of business by the wet weather.

Shoppers have been closeting themselves indoors and holding off on summer purchases like barbeques, sun loungers, and bikinis, says financial services firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers. While the economy as a whole enjoyed a 3% fall in insolvencies across the first half of 2012, 'retail is the sector that keeps bucking the trend,' says PwC retail specialist Mike Jervis.

In the last six months, 426 retailers have gone out of business, compared with 386 a year ago. Among the casualties are Clinton Cards, Game, and Julian Graves. 'Quarter-on-quarter retail insolvencies have increased for every one of the last four quarters,' warns Jervis.

The CBI's monthly distributive trades survey adds yet more fuel to the retail bonfire. Retailers have become gloomier in July, it reckons, with sales rising at a weaker rate than expected. While 44% said business was up on July 2011, 33% said sales volumes were down. The balance of +11 percentage points was well down on the +42 points expected when retailers were polled in June.

Let's just hope the upcoming 'Indian Summer' can save the high street...

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