UK High Street retail sales stumbled 0.4 per cent in February in terms of value, the British Retail Consortium has announced.
However total units sold increased 1.1 per cent year-on-year – compared to a 4.5 per cent rise seen in February 2010. This is the smallest gain since May 2009.
Sales from internet and mail order retailers rose 10.4 per cent year-on-year in February, but this was down from January’s 12.3 per cent increase.
The BRC said the dip was due to consumers’ uncertainty about jobs and income, with clothing, footware, homeware stores and big-ticket purchases such as cars suffering the most.
It has urged Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to support retail through jobs and growth in the upcoming Budget. This is due on Wednesday, March 23rd.
“After the big boost to January’s figures from one-off factors, including a strong final burst of pre-VAT rise spending, February’s figures are a return to a more realistic picture of how things are for customers and retailers,” said BRC’s director general Stephen Robertson.
“Sales of non-food goods suffered – particularly more expensive items such as furniture and electricals. Even online, the growth in sales of non-food items slowed to an 18-month low. Customers are cautious and cutting back in a big way on non-essential spending.”
KPMG’s head of retail Helen Dickinson added: “Consumers are re-adjusting their spending habits to reflect the reduced disposable income in their pockets. The key question for retailers is whether they have finished yet.”