UK retail sales slow as consumers tighten the purse strings

Growth in UK retail sales ground to halt in January, amid signs of consumer caution, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Sales decreased by 0.6% on a like-for-like basis from January 2016, when they had increased 2.6% from the preceding year.

Over the three-months to January, non-food retail sales rose 0.2% on a like-for-like basis. This is below the 12-month total average growth of 0.8%, which is the lowest since July 2012.

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Online sales grew 8.6% in the same period, while in-store sales declined 2.2% on a total basis and 2.4% on a like-for-like basis.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC said that over the last three months slowing sales in non-food retail had resulted in the slowest growth for the festive period since 2009.

“These figures suggest that ‘caution’ was top of New Year shopping lists and the uptick in credit card lending at the end of the last year may be short lived,” she added.

“With the signs pointing to upward pressures on shop prices given rising import costs, all eyes will be on the impact of inflation on consumer spending. That said, retailers are a resilient and innovative bunch. They have become increasingly adept at responding to the challenging environment, and as a result the industry has been a key driver of recent UK productivity growth.”

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