Bad weather blamed for poor high street spending

Retail sales fell 1% in February compared to the same time last year.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 30 Sep 2014

Last month’s wet weather dragged on sales and suggests that Britain’s economic recovery is ‘far from certain,’ the British Retail Consortium has said.

Data from the BRC showed that like-for-like sales fell 1% in February compared to the same time a year ago, the first fall since last April. The drop also came on the back of a bumper January, when high street sales rose 5.4% - the biggest jump in nearly three years.

Britain has recently suffered the wettest winter on record, with 517.6mm of rain falling in the UK between December 1 and February 24. That compares with an average winter rainfall of 330.4mm. And despite figures suggesting that Britain’s economy is on the road to recovery, there are signs that shoppers are still cautious when it comes to spending.

‘Overall sales were pretty flat, which serves as a reminder that recovery is far from certain. Retailers need the Government to deliver measures in the forthcoming Budget which will give shoppers more pounds in their pocket, but more importantly imbue them with the confidence to spend them,’ said David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, which carries out the survey with the BRC.

Grocery sales were the main driver for the drop in sales, falling by 1.7% over the last three months compared to a 3.5% increase in like-for-like non-food sales. Home accessories, followed by furniture and flooring, were the top performers thanks to a boost in the housing market from government schemes to drive borrowing.

Online sales benefitted from the bad weather, with sales of non-food products up 14.3% in February.

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