Sales volume growth still healthy but slowing
Official retail sales figures released today show recent interest rate rises are now affecting consumer confidence with sales growth likely to slow further over the next few months.
Reacting to the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) figures, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said year-on-year growth of sales by value 'appeared stronger than it really was because the comparison is with a poor performance in March 2006, caused by the timing of Easter'.
The BRC stressed that sales rose very little in March after a sharp rise in February. It warned another interest rate rise in May would be damaging for retailers.
British Retail Consortium analyst Malcolm Pinkerton said: "These figures show sales volume growth still healthy but slowing. It's clear recent interest rate rises are now beginning to affect customers' willingness to spend. Consumer confidence is likely to continue slipping as rising living costs, including mortgages, taxes, fuel and transport, erode spending power further."