Retail sales slip in tough start to 2017

Retail sales slipped back in January as shoppers turned more cautious about spending, industry figures show.

Like-for-like sales were down 0.6% on the same month last year, the first decline since August, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG.

The BRC said that looking across the last three months, retailers saw the slowest growth over the key festive period since 2009.

That was driven by slowing sales growth in the non-food sector.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "These figures suggest that 'caution' was top of new year shopping lists and the uptick in credit card lending at the end of the last year may be short lived."

The report pointed to the squeeze facing retailers after the slump in the pound.

Ms Dickinson said: "With the signs pointing to upward pressures on shop prices given rising import costs, all eyes will be on the impact of inflation on consumer spending."

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said the performance was "likely to have left retailers feeling a little deflated" after a strong December.

There were mixed fortunes for the high street's biggest names over the festive period, with Next seeing sales slip but Marks & Spencer reporting the first growth in its clothing division for six years.

Consumer spending has helped fuel steady economic growth in the wake of the EU referendum though Bank of England governor Mark Carney has suggested this could fizzle out.

Last week the Bank reported the first slowdown in consumer borrowing for five months.



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