Retail sales have been hit by a surprise slump in sales in the run up to the Festive Season, with official figures showing a 0.1 per cent drop in October.
The statistics, published by the Office for National Statistics, show just how difficult the current retail climate is for SMEs, who continue to be impacted by a confidence crisis, brought on by political uncertainty and rising costs.
The fall in sales across all main retail sectors apart from food stores, represented the weakest monthly figure since April 2018, and it comes despite heaving discounting by retailers.
Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), comments: “With a general election just four weeks away, manifestos are being drawn-up by all political parties. We need to see strong pledges that will help small businesses grow and thrive being put front and centre.”
Mr Cherry goes on to add that a key factor in achieving this objective will be a “major overhaul” of the outdated business rates system, which is currently holding back so many SMEs.