Retail is hit as spending cuts squeeze shoppers

Picture: Pierandrea Guarnieri

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RETAIL sales figures have revealed that shoppers avoided buying clothes, footwear and big ticket items in May as the squeeze on consumer spending continued.

Sales values were 2.1 per cent lower on a like-for-like basis in May, compared with a year ago.

The British Retail Consortium said the figures, which also showed a 0.3 per cent drop in total sales, were a more realistic reflection of conditions on the high street as rising inflation, low wage growth and the increasing uncertainty surrounding Government cuts hit confidence.

Baby-and-child retailer Mothercare, entertainment group HMV, sportswear firm JJB and electrical retailers Comet and Dixons have all announced store closures in recent weeks, while Focus DIY and wine merchant Oddbins fell into administration.

Stephen Robertson, the BRC’s director general, said: ‘The first half of May was better than the second, when the weather turned unseasonably wet and cold in many parts of the country, but customers’ fundamental reluctance to spend is now clear to see.’