Home Estate Planning Wettest February on record leads to poor month for retail

Wettest February on record leads to poor month for retail

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The wettest February on record hit high street spending, according to new figures, with sales volumes falling substantially year-on-year.

Data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed that retail sales increased 1.1 per cent in the year to February, down from 5.2 per cent last year and below the three-month average of 1.4 per cent.

February’s poor weather particularly impacted non-food sales, which fell 2.5 per cent over the previous three months. This compared to an increase of 8.1 per cent the year before.

Toy sales were one of the few areas to get an increase as parents tried to keep their kids occupied inside.

“Consumer demand was dampened by the wettest February on record, translating into a poor month of retail sales growth,” Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC said.

“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,” she continued.

Although food sales increased six per cent year-on-year in the three months to February, this was still down on growth of 8.3 per cent last year.

The figures show that consumers are still feeling the pinch from stubborn levels of inflation and high borrowing costs, suggesting January’s retail rebound may run out of steam.

Retail sales climbed 3.4 per cent in January, the largest monthly rise since April 2021.

Linda Ellett, UK head of consumer markets, leisure and retail at KPMG, also noted that the high street had not yet seen the boost from the Chancellor’s tax cuts, announced in the Autumn Statement.

“Cuts in national insurance rates designed to put more money in people’s pockets have so far failed to translate to a boost to consumer spend on the high street,” Ellett said.

“As many households continue to adapt budgets to meet higher essential costs, including higher mortgage rates, consumer reluctance to get out there and start spending is likely to remain in the short term,” she continued.

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