Retail sales slip due to ‘crushed consumer confidence’

// Total sales slipped 0.3% year on year in April
// Like-for-like sales decreased 1.7% for the period

Retail sales have been hit by the rising cost of living, which has “crushed consumer confidence”.

Total retail sales slipped 0.3% year on year compared with a 51.1% increase in April 2021 – which was compared to the first lockdown – the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor found.

Like-for-like sales decreased 1.7% for the period, compared with a 39.6% increase for the same period in 2021.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The rising cost of living has crushed consumer confidence and put the brakes on consumer spending. Sales growth has been slowing since January, though the real extent of this decline has been masked by rising inflation.

READ MORE: Footfall now less than 10% off pre-Covid levels

“Big-ticket items have been hit hardest as consumers reined in spending on furniture, electricals and other homeware, compounded by delays on goods coming from China.

“Meanwhile, thanks to the April sunshine, garden goods and fashion saw stronger sales, particularly occasionwear as consumers prepared for summer and this year’s wedding season.

Over the three months to April, food retail sales decreased 1.8% on a like-for-like basis and 1.3% in total.

Non-food like-for-likes sales edged up 1.8% across the three month period, or 6.9% in total, below the 12-month total average growth of 11.1%. For the month of April, non-food was in decline year on year.

Online accounted for 38.6% of non-food sales over the month, down from 45.1% a year earlier. However, this was up 15.2 percentage points on the 29.9% seen at the same point in 2019.

Dickinson added: “Customers face a difficult year, with the Bank of England predicting inflation to reach more than 10%. Retailers are experiencing higher costs as a result of rising commodity prices, transport costs, labour shortages, delays at ports and the war in Ukraine.

“Further headwinds are incoming, such as rising global food prices, which rose 13% between March and April. Retailers will continue to do all they can to mitigate the effects of these costs rises but, unfortunately, they cannot absorb them all.”

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