Retail sales dampened by wettest-ever February

6th March 2024 | Jack Oliver

Retail sales were hit by the wettest February on record, according to new figures from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), UK total retail sales increased by 1.1% year-on-year in February, down from an increase of 5.2% in February 2023. This was lower than the three-month average growth of 1.4% and below the 12-month average growth of 3.1%.

The sales figures are not adjusted for inflation, however indexes from both the BRC and Office for National Statistics show that inflation is running at higher levels than normal, so the figures likely mask a drop in sales volumes. As inflation continues to go down, retail sales figures will naturally decline in the same period.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Consumer demand was dampened by the wettest February on record, translating into a poor month of retail sales growth. 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. On the sunnier side, rainy weather did brighten sales of toys, as parents looked for ways to occupy their children indoors.

“With consumer confidence and demand remaining weak, Government must find ways to stimulate the economy. Retailers have some Government induced cost hurdles to jump in the coming months including a £400m business rates rise based on last September’s 6.7% inflation rate. By using Wednesday’s Budget to reduce this, the Chancellor will lend a helping hand to much needed investment in businesses and local communities up and down the country.”

Linda Ellett, UK head of consumer markets, leisure and retail, KPMG, added: “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, with retail sales growth in February recording a limp 1.1%.”

The Chancellor is expected to again cut the rate of national insurance in this afternoon’s Spring Budget.


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