THE retail industry has suffered its worst Christmas performance for a decade, figures released today show.

A slump in festive sales has already caused one national name, HMV, to go into administration

But there are signs that Bournemouth may have bucked the national trend, with some retailers reporting an improvement in sales.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG retail sales monitor found sales were flat year-on-year, marking the worst December performance since 2008. On a like-for-like basis, sales fell 0.7 per cent.

Paul Kinvig, chief operating officer of Bournemouth Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID), said there were positive signs in the town, which introduced a Christmas Tree Wonderland to help boost footfall.

“There’s no doubt it was tough but there’s no doubt that the Christmas Tree Wonderland experience brought significant numbers of people into the town and not just in the evenings,” he said.

“We’ve had some early indications that quite a number of businesses in Bournemouth did at least as well as last year if not better.”

Jeff Bray, senior lecturer in marketing and retail management at Bournemouth University, said: “There are many retailers out there that are being successful and that are growing their sales and growing their store portfolios.

“Clearly it’s a challenging environment, clearly we are spending less in physical shops, but for the right shops, giving he right experience, giving the shopper what they need, they’re thriving still.

“It’s a rapidly changing retail environment and if retailers aren’t changing quickly enough they will be losing market share to those that are. I accept it’s mostly doom and gloom but it’s not all doom and gloom.”

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Squeezed consumers chose not to splash out this Christmas, with retail sales growth stalling for the first time in 28 months. The worst December sales performance in 10 years means a challenging start to 2019 for retailers, with business rates set to rise once again this year, and the threat of a no-deal Brexit looming ever larger.”

She added: “Retailers are facing up to this challenge but are having to wrestle with mounting costs from a succession of government policies – from the apprenticeship levy, to higher wage costs, to rising business rates.”

n The Daily Echo is planning a fortnight of features looking at the state of the retail industry, starting later this month.