Retail sales on the rack

The UK economy has been dealt another blow with new retail figures revealing a slump in demand for food and clothes.
According to the latest British Retail Consortium and KPMG survey like-for-like sales fell by 0.7% in March compared with last year hit by inflation and Easter shutdowns. That is the biggest drop since last August.
Food sales over the last three months dropped 0.7%, the largest decrease since June. The fashion sector also found the going tough, with both clothing and footwear sales showing their largest decline since September 2014 despite ramped-up promotional activity.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, called the figures relatively disappointing stating that disposable income was mainly now being spent by consumers in the leisure and entertainment sectors.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Despite the clock move bringing extra hours of daylight, there was no ‘spring forward’ for retail sales during March with growth broadly flat overall. Earlier Easters are not always good for the fashion industry as consumers are put off purchases of lighter fashions and footwear in cooler temperatures and this was certainly the case this year. However, furniture and home accessories benefited from consumers taking on home improvement projects over the long weekend while the ‘Mother’s Day effect’ boosted sales of jewellery and watches.”
Looking ahead he said retailers will be hoping for fewer April showers this month to entice spending on newly launched ranges and “to help alleviate the additional cost burden with the implementation of the National Living Wage”.