TOP NEWS: UK Sales Growth Slows In February As Brexit Looms

LONDON (Alliance News) - UK sales growth eased in February as uncertainty around the UK's ...

Alliance News 5 March, 2019 | 5:30AM
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LONDON (Alliance News) - UK sales growth eased in February as uncertainty around the UK's impending exit from the EU at the end of March hampered retail growth, the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor figures showed on Tuesday.

Data covering the four weeks to February 23 showed total sales up 0.5% from a year before, below both the 3-month and 12-month averages of 0.9% and 1.2% growth respectively.

This was after sales increased by 2.2% in January, the highest annual growth since June.

"Uncertainty surrounding the UK's imminent exit from the EU has hit consumer spending. While real incomes have started to rise over the past year, shoppers have been reluctant to spend this February, holding back growth. This slowdown was not limited to physical stores, with growth in online non-food sales well below the twelve-month average," Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said.

UK retail sales decreased by 0.1% on a like-for-like basis in February compared to the previous year, when they had increased by 0.6%.

Over the three months to February, in-store sales of non-food items declined 2.8%. On a like-for-like basis, the fall was even steeper at 3.1%.

Non-food retail sales in the UK decreased by 0.6% on a like-for-like basis and 0.4% on a total basis.

Food sales, however, increased 1.3% if considered on a like-for-like basis and 2.4% on a total basis, for the same three-month period.

Online sales of non-food products grew 5.4% in February, against a growth of 6.4% in February 2018, while online penetration rate rose to 29.6% from 27.5% a year ago.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: "Following a modest recovery in January, February saw a slowdown in sales. While consumer spending has so far remained relatively resilient, driven by factors such as low unemployment and wage growth, it would seem that continuing political and economic uncertainties are beginning to notably affect shoppers' spending habits."

He added: "Across all categories, there was sluggish growth, and the milder weather appears to have shifted the focus away from indoors with furniture sales declining - and not even Valentine's Day could boost sales in the stationery category."

By Elena Cherubini; elenacherubini@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2019 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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