The Retail Sales Index recently showed a 3.5% decrease in food sales in the month of May as compared to last year. The Retail Sales Index is a monthly inquiry into retail sales and this is sample survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics on 5,000 businesses in Great Britain. It includes all large retailers and a representative sample of smaller businesses.
The quoted comment was “Predominantly food stores sales volumes decreased this month, with a decrease of 3.5 in May 2011 compared to May 2010. This follows last months brief respite from contraction. Within predominantly non-food stores, there was volume growth across all sectors apart from household goods stores which fell for a fourth consecutive month to 6.0 per cent. Non-store retailing again saw the largest volume growth between May 2010 and May 2011 with an increase of 19.0 per cent.”
On the other hand, the British Retail Consortium, which is generally taken as representative of the High Street Multiples including the supermarkets, say that “Food Sales slowed markedly after April’s strong growth” but is still 1.9% up on a weighted 3 month average compared to a year ago.
So do we presume from this that smaller retailers are suffering more than the ‘big boys’?
But what does this mean to Wales? I tried in vain to fine any statistics about food sales in Wales, either year on year, month on month, multiple retailers compared to direct sales, but to no avail. But bear in mind that Wag’s Food Press Office still refuse to answer my questions so this was not an easy challenge!
Wales has had an Assembly for 10 years and food, as part of Rural Affairs, is a devolved area of government (but food has now been demoted in that it only justifies a Deputy Minister). Why, as a government don’t we have these figures published for all to scrutinise and evaluate and then allow us to adjust our businesses so that they move forward and grow?
So much money is being put into food promotion, so would it not be a good idea to find out where we are so that we can measure what effect this money is having?
If a privately owned business sector put millions of pounds* into it as a project, would they not have an accurate financial figure from where to start, as well as a target to meet that could be accurately measured? Whilst of course, being constantly monitored and adjusted along the way?
Many of our Government ideas are good, but they appear to be spending millions of pounds on ticking boxes instead of ensuring that each process has a substantial benefit to the farmers, growers, producers and food retailers down the line. Surely this should be a basic business role.
Your comments and feedback are invaluable and can I say again that any comments left on welshfoodbites are anonymous and will stay so – the only person who will know, is me and I promise you it will remain that way.
* Millions of pounds is derived from the monies spent on Food projects from the RDP and True Taste, but again accurate spending is difficult if not impossible to find.