Non-food sales recorded their slowest quarter since May 2011 in the three months to March as shoppers focused their spending on essential items, a new report has said.
The British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor found that non-food retail sales in the UK fell by 1.1% on a like-for-like basis and 0.8% on a total basis compared with the previous year.
The figures also highlighted the growing contrast between sales made online and those in stores, as online sales increased by 7.4% and in-store sales fell by 3% during the quarter.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson pointed to the later timing of Easter as part of the reason for a distortion in sales patterns, but also suggested that the slowdown in non-food growth is part of a wider trend.
The report said clothing sales fell during March but sales of footwear – in particular women’s footwear – increased as a result of the arrival of new spring ranges.
“Retailers will be hoping Easter boosts retail sales in April, whether it’s shoppers making the most of the holiday or those choosing to spruce up their homes,” said Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG.
“The new tax year marks further pressure on margins in the form of the apprenticeship levy and business rate changes. Therefore, tighter cost management and a focus on efficiency is more important than ever.”