Yesterday, we woke to the news that UK retailers suffered the worst December since 2008 last month. The high street was hit by Brexit worries and a sharp decline in consumer confidence over the festive period. Total sales growth dropped to zero for the first time in a decade, with all areas hit by a fall in sales apart from food. Indeed, Tesco’s records showed the best festive sales performance since December 2009.
The carmaker Ford announced new plans that are expected to lead to thousands of job losses across Europe. While the immediate impact on UK workers is expected to be minimal, Steven Armstrong, the European chief of Ford, said that if the UK was to leave the EU without a negotiated deal, then there would a review of UK operations. Jaguar Land Rover also said it will slash around 4,500 job losses, many of which will be in the UK.
Jeremy Corbyn confirmed that Labour’s approach to Brexit is a new deal rather than another referendum, saying that if the party were to win a snap election, they could seek an extension of article 50. This would give them time to negotiate a new deal, but will be a blow to those Labour supporters demanding a second referendum. Corbyn said that “Any political leader who wants to bring the country together cannot wish away the votes of 17 million who wanted to leave, any more than they can ignore the concerns of the 16 million who voted to remain.” However, he did say that if Labour failed to secure a general election, then all options would be kept on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.
Today is an extremely busy end to the week for UK economic data, beginning with the balance of trade figures for November. We will also the month-over-month and year-on-year GDP figures, as well as construction output, and industrial and manufacturing production figures.