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“Brexit uncertainty” hits February’s retail growth, says BRC

Tom Bottomley
05 March 2019

The retail growth for the month of February was hit by “Brexit uncertainty”, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Sales increased by 0.5% in the month, compared to a growth of 1.6% in February 2018. This was below both the three month and 12-month averages of 0.9% and 1.2% respectively.

Over the three months to February, in-store sales of non-food items declined -2.8% on a total basis and -3.1% on a like-for-like basis. This is below the 12-month total average decline of 2.4%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Uncertainty surrounding the UK’s imminent exit from the European Union has hit consumer spending. While real incomes have started to rise over the past year, shoppers have been reluctant to spend this February, holding back growth. This slowdown was not limited to physical stores, with growth in online non-food sales well below the 12-month average.”

Dickinson also remains adamant that a no deal Brexit would be potentially disastrous for UK retailers. She added: “With consumers increasingly aware of the risk of a no deal Brexit, it is likely that uncertainty has driven this cautious approach to retail spending. If government wishes to reassure both the public and businesses, they should ensure a chaotic no deal – which would lead to higher costs, higher prices, and less choice for consumers – is taken off the table with immediate effect.”

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