UK retail sales have fallen 1.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis, compared with March 2007, when sales were up almost four per cent, making this the worst decline since July 2005, according to the British Retail Consortium.
Stephen Robertson, director general, British Retail Consortium (pictured), said customers are spending on essentials. He explained: “Here is the strongest evidence yet that customers are making serious economies and are increasingly concerned about the future. With recent retail profit warnings, it is further proof that trading is extremely tough but retailers are fighting back by keeping prices low and delivering extra value,” Robertson said.
Helen Dickinson, head of retail, KPMG, expected figures to be strong due to the timing of Easter. "Instead, we have the worst monthly performance since July 2005. Retailers were hit by the double whammy of an early Easter and poor weather even before factoring in the slowdown in consumer spending on the back of rising inflation, falling house prices and the impact on consumer confidence of the credit crisis.
“The week leading up to Easter Saturday bode well but the performance in the remaining two weeks of the month was not sufficient to hold up the month's results. All sectors, with the exception of food and homewares, which had nothing to write home about, delivered negative like-for-like sales across the month. Consumer confidence remains on a knife-edge.” Dickinson added.