Retail Sales Hit Record Low in March

Retail sales fell to a record year–on–year low in March, as high inflation and low wage growth caused a drop in disposable income.

Total retail sales for the month were down 1.9 per cent on March 2010 — the worst fall since records began in 1996.

British Retail Consortium director general, Stephen Robertson, said that this year’s late Easter this year had only partially contributed to the drop in March sales.

“Uncomfortably high inflation and low wage growth have produced the first year–on–year fall in disposable incomes for 30 years.”

“Mounting fuel and utility costs, falling house prices, higher VAT and the prospect of more tax rises and job losses left people unwilling to spend unless they really had to.”

KPMG‘s head of retail, Helen Dickinson, said consumers had been spending less and less since mid-January.

“Many retailers will not be able to sustain this ongoing weakness in demand beyond the short-term and are hoping for some good news around the extended bank holiday period and a feel–good factor driven by the Royal Wedding.”

British Shops and Stores Association communications director, Michael Weedon, said consumers are nervous and are sitting on their wallets.

“Our message to the Bank of England is please don’t put up interest rates now, because one in three households in this country has a mortgage. As interest and mortgage rates go up there’ll be a squeeze on consumer capacity to spend as well as confidence to spend.”

Federation of Small Businesses spokeswoman, Prue Watson, said:

“It’s times like this when small retailers need to think creatively, go back to their business plan and see if they can do things through marketing or PR in a cost effective way.”

“They also need to develop their brand across social networks so they can start to promote their products and services to new customers.”

Retail Sales Hit Record Low in March 2011

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