UK retailers have experienced the steepest sales decline for eight months in April as continued bad weather and low consumer confidence affected seasonal sales.
Like-for-like sales for the month fell by 0.9% according to the British Retail Consortium and KPMG’s monthly retail sales monitor. While total sales were flat, there was a continued weakening demand for fashion and footwear.
Nonetheless, online sales of non-food products in the UK increased by 6.6% last month in comparison to April 2015.
Homeware sales continued to rise, making it the best performing sector.
“April saw the second month of flat sales for UK retailers with positive food sales offset by record declines in fashion. As a result, the 12-month average growth for non-food sales slowed to 2.5% while for food sales it nudged back into positive territory at 0.1%” said BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson.
“Overall, flat total sales mask a very mixed picture; some retailers benefitting from the healthy housing market, while others are evidently more susceptible to the effects of lower consumer confidence and a higher proportion of disposable income going into leisure and entertainment. While glimmers of hope are evident, the rapid pace of change in the industry, increasing cost pressures and other businesses burdens remain a cause for concern.”
“Despite a further slowdown in online sales during April, penetration rates remained high as cleverly timed discounting and promotional activity proved online players were no ‘April fools’ “added David McCorquodale, Head of Retail at KPMG.
“Looking ahead, retailers may well need to bolster online offerings as warmer temperatures start to tempt consumers back into the shops.”