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UK retail has worst February sales dip for eight years: survey

Monday, March 13, 2017 - 09:41

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Britain's shops endured their worst fall in February sales since 2009, a survey showed on Friday, adding to evidence of a Brexit-related consumer slowdown as London gears up for divorce talks with the European Union.

[LONDON] Britain's shops endured their worst fall in February sales since 2009, a survey showed on Friday, adding to evidence of a Brexit-related consumer slowdown as London gears up for divorce talks with the European Union.

Recent data and surveys have indicated that consumers are feeling the strain of rising prices after last year's Brexit vote, while British retailers, including department stores chain John Lewis, supermarket Morrisons and Wickes owner Travis Perkins, have said they are bracing for uncertainty.

Accountancy firm BDO said its monthly High Street Sales Tracker found overall UK like-for-like sales fell 2.2 per cent in February - a third straight month of decline.

BDO highlighted a particularly weak performance for fashion where sales fell 3.4 per cent - the poorest result for the sector since September 2016.

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Sales of homewares fell for the first time since June 2016 - down 1.4 per cent year-on-year Online sales growth also slowed, to 19.9 per cent.

"(Storm) Doris kept shoppers away from the high street, but the relatively poor growth of online sales in February shows that the economic headwinds significantly curbed spending," Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said.

"The majority of retailers' price hedges ran out at the end of last year, and inflationary cost pressures have forced them to increase prices - sharply in some cases."

REUTERS

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