Retail recovery dented by dire February

UK shoppers are increasingly basing their purchasing decisions on whether items deliver value for money, new data on the state of the retail market suggests.

Retail sales values fell 0.4% on a year like-for-like basis in February 2010, when sales had risen 2.2%, the latest BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor reveals.

On a total basis, sales were 1.1% higher, against a 4.5% increase in February 2010, but it still marked the poorest improvement since May 2009.

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Consumers’ underlying uncertainty about jobs and incomes resurfaced, hitting clothing, footwear and homewares in particular.

Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, says February saw a continuation of the trend seen in the latter part of January, with struggling non-food sales highlighting consumers’ caution over the outlook.

“There is inflation in these numbers, so volumes are lower and with people making less shopping trips, fewer retailers are benefitting from the limited spending capacity available,” she said.

“Price, but more importantly value, has become an even higher decision-making criteria. Consumers are re-adjusting their spending habits to reflect the reduced disposable income in their pockets and the key question for retailers is whether they have finished yet,” she added.

The survey also noted that non-food non-store (internet, mail-order and phone) sales growth fell further in February.

Sales were 10.4% higher than a year ago, slower growth than the 12.3% in January and the smallest gain since August 2009.

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