Retailers hope for strong Easter after bad March

Tim Wallace
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UK RETAIL sales fell in March as cash-strapped shoppers cut back again on spending on areas including food and furniture, industry figures reveal today.

Total retail sales in March were down 0.3 per cent compared with the same month of 2013, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG have calculated.

And like-for-like sales – comparing shopping in the same stores over the year – dived 1.7 per cent.

The industry body blamed a late Easter for the poor results, and hopes sales will bounce back next month.

However, economist Howard Archer from IHS Global Insight said retailers are cutting prices in an effort to shore up sales, a sign shops are aware that consumers are still cautious.

“It is evident that many retailers looked to boost sales in March by appreciable discounting and promotions, which suggests that many retailers feel that they have to work hard to get long pressurised consumers to part with their cash,” he said.

“Significantly, the BRC has already reported that its shop price deflator fell 1.7 per cent year-on-year in March.”