Retail volume sales in February suffered the biggest month-on-month decline in nine months, according to the latest ONS figures. Sales including fuel declined by 0.8% between January and February, the biggest month-on-month fall since May 2011, the ONS said in an update. Volume sales were up slightly year-on-year, showing 1% growth compared with February 2011, while value sales were up 2.6% year-on-year.
Food sales in February were down 0.1% month-on-month, with clothes sales down 1.2% and household goods down 1%. The biggest month-on-month decline, 3%, came from the “other stores” category, which includes speciality retailers such as fine arts and antique dealers.
The ONS also revised its sales figures for January down from 0.9% to 0.3%, blaming late data from smaller retailers. Coming a day after the Budget, the figures showed the government needed to do more to support retailers, particularly on business rates, the British Retail Consortium said. “The headlines from yesterday’s Budget do nothing immediate to change the tough reality millions of families are dealing with,” BRC director general Stephen Robertson said.
“It’s good the Chancellor’s done something to help households’ abilities to spend by raising personal tax allowances but disappointing it won’t take effect for another 12 months. Meanwhile the continuing rise in fuel prices keeps eating into families’ budgets and hitting their ability to spend.”