According to the British Retail Consortium, retail sales this first quarter fell 1.4% compared to the same period last year. This was attributed to the effects of a late spring and the late Easter season (with Easter Sunday coming in next week). According to BRC, even excluding the assumption of a late Easter, sales growth would have also been flat, with a growth of only 0.3% over the same quarter 2005.
The continuing cold weather this March discouraged the purchase of lighter, summer outfits, something that is usually common this time of the year, when the weather starts to become warmer. British consumers and companies are also keeping a tighter watch over expenses because of rising consumer debt, taxes and energy costs.
KPMG’s retail division, however, downplayed the BRC’s pessimistic assumptions, stating that these are distorted by the late occurrence of Easter this year. The first quarter figures are better taken in consideration with April figures.