2014: A record year for the high street
04 February 2015
The value of retail sales last year was at an all-time high for the UK - around £342 billion - according to the government. This was a rise of £48 billion on 2010. In addition, estimates from the Department for Business, Innovation and skills (BIS) also show that 2014 was a record year for smaller firms that turned over £72 billion last year. The retail sector now employs 10% of the UK workforce, which is equivalent to over three million people and nearly 90,000 apprentices.
New ‘sale day’ trends from across the Atlantic have hit the British high street over the last couple of years. ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ contributed to the record leap in sales, with the pre-Christmas November sales up by 5.2% on last year, according to BIS.
However, this new sale trend attracted some criticism among business owners, with Andy Street, managing director of high street giant John Lewis, warning that UK firms should reconsider heavy discounting on Black Friday. He expressed concern that concentrating trade so much in that one period meant that retailers’ back end operations, such as online deliveries, were put under pressure.
In December 2014, the Chancellor announced a number of measures to back Britain’s high streets and ensure that these become hubs for local businesses once again. The growth of the retail sector is surely good news for the recovery of the British economy.