The British Retail Consortium has reported a year-on-year fall in sales at the end of October 2008, the first since April 2005, with total sales values dropping by 0.1 per cent.
Food and drink was one of the only sectors to report any significant growth over last year. Clothing sales remained poor and often discount-driven despite recent wet and cold weather while homeware and furniture dropped even further.
“These are seriously poor number, especially in the run up to Christmas,” said the BRC’s director general, Stephen Robertson.
“For the first time in three years total retail sales fell in to negative territory – further evidence of how difficult trading conditions are for retailers. Like-for-like sales have now fallen in seven of the last eight months with every sector down on a year ago apart from food and footware. Shoe sales were driven by extensive discounts.
“The negative sales figures reflect record low consumer confidence. These are tough times for families and retailers, who are hoping that the Bank of England’s bold interest rate cuts will provide a much-needed boost.”