UK retail sees 0.7% Q1 decline

The UK High Street suffered a like-for-like sales decline of 0.7 per cent in Q1 and 1.2 per cent in March, the latest figures from the British retail Consortium reveal.

Retail Week reports, however, that total sales grew 1.2 per cent year-on-year, with March number’s climbing by 0.6 per cent. Note though that direct comparisons should consider that Easter fell far earlier in 2008.

The best news came in the clothing and footwear sectors, with the warm weather prompting clothing to make its first gains since last May and footwear to record its best year-on-year growth in a year. Big losers included furniture, which saw its steepest falls for nine years.

Online was once again the big winner with year-on-year increases of 10.8 per cent, though this is down on the 30 per cent growth seen in Q4 2008.

The figures are unlikely to be the basis of sustained improvement,” BRC director general Stephen Robertson stated. Customers are still worried about jobs and their own finances so they’re keeping spending under tight control. We’ve now seen negative like-for-like sales growth in nine of the past 10 months.”

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