Retail sales growth grinds to a halt in February

UK retail sales took a tumble last month after a strong start to the year, as consumer spending slowed.

On a total basis, sales were up 1.1%, against a 1.7% rise in February 2015, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

After January’s acceleration, February’s slowdown puts the three-month average growth in line with the 12-month average at 1.8%.

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Sales were up 3.3% in January, against a 1.6% rise the year before.

February growth was mostly driven by furniture and home accessories while food, clothing and footwear experienced declines on a like-for-like basis.

Online sales of non-food products grew 10.7% in February versus a year earlier, when they had grown 8.3%.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said that even Valentine’s Day couldn’t help drive fashion sales.

"February’s slowdown was noticeable across all product categories bar stationery and health & beauty, as Valentine’s Day provided a welcome growth spurt for those retailers well prepared for the occasion. The fashion categories struggled while some growth was noted in books and vision,” she added.

"This slow growth reflects the increasing pressure the industry is under, as highlighted in our recent Retail 2020 report. With the Budget due this month, we encourage the Government to address the cumulative burden that retailers face; enabling growth and protecting jobs and communities."

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