Brits have held back on buying big ticket items, such as furniture, as living costs spiral.
Retail sales in the UK fell on a like-for-like basis by 1.7 per cent last month, compared to April 2021.
Sales growth went into decline for the first time in 15 months as retailers face a balancing act between keeping prices competitive and offsetting their own soaring costs.
While fashion and footwear sales continued to grow, shoppers held back on spending on technology and homeware items, according to the latest data from KPMG and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
“The rising cost of living has crushed consumer confidence and put the brakes on consumer spending,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
“Sales growth has been slowing since January, though the real extent of this decline has been masked by rising inflation. Big ticket items have been hit hardest, as consumers reigned in spending on furniture, electricals and other homeware; compounded by delays on goods coming from China.”
Buoyed by Easter celebrations and good weather, garden products were also boosted, while the food and drink categories saw three per cent growth last month.
The fresh figures show that retailers are beginning to experience a spending slowdown as households tighten pursestrings as energy and grocery bills increase.
“Against a backdrop of falling consumer confidence, the retail sector has a bumpy time ahead as they face spiralling cost pressures from all directions,” Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG cautioned.
The high street faced a turbulent course ahead, Martin warned, as many retailers would have “no choice” but to hike prices.
He continued: “The longer we see high inflation and real household incomes falling, the more likely it is that consumers will change their spending behaviour, prompting a decline in the health of the retail sector and possibly more casualties on the high street.”
It comes as data from Kantar has revealed that supermarket shoppers have started to buy from discount retailers more, pick up more own brand items and add fewer items to their shopping baskets.
Data from Kantar has revealed supermarket shoppers increasingly buying from discount retailers and picking up more own brand items.