Retail sales growth slashed during wettest February on record

Wet weather and weak consumer confidence saw sales growth down by over four per cent in February compared to the same period of 2023.

Data published on Tuesday by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reveals that during “the wettest February on record”, total retail sales increased by just 1.1 per cent in comparison to the 5.3 per cent growth recorded 12 months before.

Food sales growth of six per cent was lower than the 8.3 per cent growth reported last year, while both online and brick-and-mortar non-grocery sales decreased over the four-week period.

“Consumer demand was dampened by the wettest February on record, translating into a poor month of retail sales growth," said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC. "Not even Valentine’s Day lifted customers out of the gloom, and gifting products that typically sell well, like jewellery and watches, failed to deliver."

Linda Ellett, UK head of consumer markets, leisure & retail at KPMG said that cuts in national insurance rates which were supposed to "put more money in people's pockets" have so far failed to translate to a boost in consumer spend on the High Street.

She said that as households continue to face a higher cost of living, consumer reluctance to "get out there" is likely to remain in the short term.

The figures come after research from CBI found that retail sales were down seven per cent in the year to February versus 50 per cent in the year to January, marking the slowest decrease in year-on-year sales across a ten-month run of decline.



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