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Clothing & footwear sales remains slow
11
Mar '08
UK retail sales rose 1.5% on a like-for-like basis, compared with February 2007, when sales were up 3.3% compared with a weak February 2006.

The three-month trend rate of growth edged up to 1.6% from 1.5% in January for like-for-like sales, and to 4.0% from 3.7% for total sales, reflecting the continuing growth of retail space.

Food sales remained strong. Despite some continued discounting, clothing and footwear were down on a year ago. Homewares and furniture weakened further, generally down on a year ago, but health and beauty benefited from the early Mothering Sunday.

Consumer confidence has fallen further to all-time lows. Shoppers are still very price-conscious and reluctant to splash out on major purchases, so discounting was still needed to tempt customers to buy.

Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said:
“After a blip at the start of the year as clearance sales temporarily got customers spending, belt tightening began in earnest in February when the Christmas and New Year credit card bills came home to roost.

Although a welcome boost was provided by this year's early Mothering Sunday, which helped food sales as well as health and beauty, customers remained cautious.

“Both retailers and consumers are being squeezed by sharp increases in utility bills and fuel costs. So the Chancellor's theme on Wednesday should be a Budget to revive the economy, rather than one piling on newtaxes and regulations.”

Sales were below their year-earlier level for the fifth consecutive month, despite continued discounting and promotions.

As in past months, childrenswear was stronger than womenswear and menswear, but nevertheless fell just below its year-earlier level.

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