UK retail sales have reported their biggest quarterly sales drop in seven years in March, falling 1.4% on the final quarter of 2016, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
The figure also declined 1.8% on February 2017, though the total amount spent was still higher than a year ago. The drop coincided with a rise in the cost of everyday goods by 3.3% – the highest growth since March 2012. At 16/4%, petrol stations saw the biggest increase.
Only the textiles, clothing and footwear sectors were immune, with the amount spent on all three up 2.5% on the preceding quarter, while online sales jumped by 19.5% in the 12 months to March and increased by 0.5% on February.
Keith Richardson, managing director of retail at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said:
“These figures suggest that the clouds are now gathering over British consumers. Rising food and petrol prices, together with slowing real wage rises, appear to be finally prompting shoppers to tighten their belts, while the value of the pound continues to put pressure on retailers’ costs.”
Kate Davies, senior statistician at the ONS, added: “This is the first time we’ve seen a quarterly decline since 2013, and it seems to be a consequence of price increases across a whole range of sectors.”
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