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Retail sales growth slows down in May

UK retail sales growth has marginally dropped in May compared with last year, according to the latest research from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG.

The BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor showed UK retail sales dipped by 0.4% on a like-for-like basis compared to May last year. 

Total sales rose 0.2% in May, compared with 1.4% growth at the same point in 2016.

Sales were at their lowest since January excluding Easter distortions, and below the three-month and 12-month averages of 1.9% and 1.2% respectively.

Non-food performance in May was the worst recorded since 2011. In the three months to May, non-food retail sales in the UK dropped by 0.3% on a like-for-like basis and grew 0.1% on a total basis.

Online sales of non-food products grew 7% during the three-months to May, but in-store sales declined by 2.3% on a like-for-like basis and by 1.8% on a total basis. 

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “After the pick-up in sales over Easter, consumer spending slowed again in May resulting in almost flat growth on the previous year.

“Overall, May’s sales slowdown is indicative of a longer term trend of a decline in consumer spending power. As household budgets become increasingly squeezed by inflation, predominantly in the non-retail part of the consumer basket, it’s vital that the next government helps retailers keep prices low for ordinary shoppers.”

UK head of retail Paul Martin added: “The impact of inflationary pressures on the nation’s purse continues to play out in this month’s figures, with shoppers evidently spending more on food and drink than on non-food purchases.

“Many retailers, particularly fashion stores, will be poised and ready to make the most of the upcoming summer, so hopefully the weather will play fair. An increased focus on managing costs will dominate the retail agenda. More imminently though, eyes will be firmly placed on the outcome of the general election, with close attention being paid to the implications it might have on the industry.”

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