Consumers' spending squeeze hits store sales
Shoppers shied away from clothing, footwear and big ticket items in May as the squeeze on consumer spending continued to hit UK retail sales.
Retail sales values were 2.1% lower on a like-for-like basis in May, compared with a year ago, after two previous months distorted by the later Easter and extra bank holiday, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said.
The BRC said the figures, which also showed a 0.3% drop in total sales, were a more realistic reflection of conditions on the high street as rising inflation, low wage growth and uncertainty surrounding Government cuts hit confidence.
Food sales were up 1.9% over the three-month period but showed a marked slowdown in May, the BRC said. Non-food sales declined by 2% over the March to May period.
Clothing sales dropped below levels seen in May last year as shoppers continued to look for special deals and promotions.
The cooler second half of May boosted footfall at department stores, the BRC said, but trade was slower.