The British Retail Consortium released an uninspiring update on the state of the high street today, saying that the number of shoppers visiting non-food retail stores fell 3.2% in October compared with a year ago.

Chief executive Helen Dickinson said, ‘high streets were hit hardest in October, with the wet and wintery weather putting off many consumers from venturing out to the shops.’

Retail parks also saw a fall, down by 0.5% while shopping centre footfall was down by 2.4%.

HOPES FOR BLACK FRIDAY

Retailers are hoping that the timing of the general election won’t distract or put-off customers from the traditional spending-spree on seen on Black Friday, which this year falls on 29 November.

In the US Black Friday happens on the day after Thanksgiving and traditionally the volume of shoppers created traffic accidents, lending it the name. These days the biggest sales day is likely to be ‘Cyber’ Monday when the number of online offers hit their peak.

Also out today was the latest report from Coffer Peach business tracker, a leading sales tracker for the pubs and restaurants sector, which said that the Rugby world cup failed to give the pubs a boost with like-for-like sales falling by 0.6% in October.

In spite of the gloom on the high street, for those retailers with the right proposition, 2019 hasn’t been gloomy at all for their shareholders. Shares in JD Sports (JD.) have more than doubled, while Games Worksop (GAW), are up 84%, Next (NXT), up 68%, Greggs (GRG), 66% higher and shares in Homewares company Dunelm (DLNM) are 60% to the good.

PROPERTY VALUE

Pubs groups have also been in demand as the value of their freehold property portfolios have been in focus as seen with the £3bn takeover of Slug and Lettuce chain Ei Group (EIG) by Stonegate partners and Hong Kong’s richest family taking over Greene King (GNK) in a £4.6bn deal earlier this year. Shareholders made 55% and 73% respectively over the last year.

At the other end of the spectrum, food retailers have struggled despite having property backed assets, such as Sainsbury (SBRY), down 21% year-to-date and Marks & Spencer (MKS), down 21%. While not a great return, it can always be worse as shareholders in Thomas Cook, Patisserie Valerie, Bon Marche, and Debenhams can attest.

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Issue Date: 11 Nov 2019