London Olympics fail to boost Britain’s retail sector
LONDON — Britain’s retail sector failed to win a major boost from the London Olympic Games, official data showed Thursday, with online sales slumping despite Britons staying at home to watch the sporting spectacle.
Sales volumes fell 0.2 percent during August compared with July in recession-affected Britain, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.
That tallied with market expectations, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.
The ONS added that sales in August grew 2.7 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. That was less than forecasts for a 2.9-percent gain.
However, non-store retail sales — which is mostly online business but also includes mail order — tumbled by 6.7 percent in August. That was the biggest monthly drop since December 2007.
“Feedback from online retailers suggests that sales were lower as consumers watched the Olympics instead of shopping online,” the ONS added in the statement.
The London Games took place for a little over two weeks covering mostly the first half of August. The Paralympics, which were held also in London, occurred between August 29 and September 9.
Samuel Tombs, an analyst at Capital Economics research group, said the London Olympic Games had boosted only certain retailers.
“Although the Olympic Games seem to have provided a boost to purchases of clothing and sporting goods, this was more than offset by falls in sales of household goods and in department stores,” he said.
“Hopes that online spending might benefit as people chose to stay in and watch the Games also seem to have been misplaced.”
Britain is currently in recession, which the government blames largely on the debt crisis in the neighbouring eurozone.