Retail Sales Rise Likely to be Short-lived, says BRC

Last month’s rise in retail sales is unlikely to continue as consumers remain preoccupied with job security, the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) has said.

The British Retail Consortium’s monthly figures showed like-for-like retail sales values jumped 5.2% in April this year compared with April 2010 due to the warm weather and consecutive bank holidays. The increase reversed a 3.5% fall in sales in March 2011 on the previous year.

“Easter and the Royal Wedding bank holiday provided a badly needed boost to many retailers during April.”

said BRC director general, Stephen Robertson.

The hottest April since records began also got people out spending on summer clothing and footwear.”

“These sales figures are a relief after the dire sales falls we saw in March, but they are not the full picture. The numbers are being compared with an April last year which was a time of uncertainty ahead of the General Election, and which didn’t include the main Easter trading period.”

The British Independent Retailers Association communications director, Michael Weedon, agreed the April figures were no cause for celebration.

“I’d be surprised if the increase continues. When you look across the last quarter or four months the picture remains fairly flat.”

“It’s not price increases that’s ensuring consumers keep their money in their pockets, it’s uncertainty. There’s huge nervousness about public sector jobs, which accounts for 40% of the economy. Uncertainty is one of the biggest restraints on spending.”

“Inflation is rising ahead of salaries. There’s virtually no wage inflation so as a consequence real living standards are falling. That’s not a recipe for improving sales in retail.”

The BRC’s figures showed that clothing and footwear sales benefited as people restocked their summer wardrobes, as did groceries, with people buying in beer, ice cream and barbecue food. While outdoor DIY and leisure items sold well, sales of big-ticket indoor items, such as electrical goods, suffered.

The rise in retail sales in April is unlikely to continue says the British Retail Consortium

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