Retail sales slow in March
New figures have shown that retail sales slowed last month as consumer confidence was shaken by the cost of living crisis and war in Ukraine.
Data from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG in their monthly sales monitor reveals that total sales increased by 3.1% in March, against an uplift of 13.9% in the same month in the prior year. This is worse than the three-month average growth of 6.9% and the 12-month average growth of 10.3%.
However, retail sales dropped by 0.4% on a like-for-like basis from March 2021 when they had increased 20.3%.
The figures also show that in the three months to March, food sales were down 2.6% on a total basis and by 3.1% like-for-like.
Meanwhile non-food retail sales increased by 14.9% on a total basis and by 8.6% on a like-for-like basis in the three months. Looking at in-store sales of non-food items, these grew by 92.9% on a total basis and by 74.9% like-for-like.
The BRC said beauty and fashion items were popular in March as shoppers bought presents in the run-up to Mother’s Day.
Commenting on the figures, Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “The rising cost-of-living and the ongoing war in Ukraine has shaken consumer confidence, with expectations of people’s personal finances over the next 12 months reaching depths not seen since the 2008 financial crisis. Furthermore, households are yet to feel the full impact of the recent rise in energy prices and national insurance changes. There is also potential for further supply chain disruption, with China putting key manufacturing and port cities into lockdown. Ultimately, consumers face an enormous challenge this year, and this is likely to be reflected in retail spend in the future.”
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