UK clocks up worst retail sales in over a year during wettest April on record

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Online retail sales show some signs of maturing, mobile sales yet to impact

UK retail sales were a wash-out following the wettest April since records began, dropping 3.3 percent from the same point last year.

Retail in the UK is under pressure from a double dip recession and unemployment rising to close to three million this year, and a serious bout of April showers kept shoppers away from the high street.

This meant that like for like sales values dropped by 3.3 percent – the worst performance since March of last year.

Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium said consumer budget struggles are still having an effect on spending, and with little sign of respite in the near future, the public is becoming “even more cautious” about their finances.

“With any significant improvement in the difficult underlying conditions a long way off, a lift in the public mood would at least give retailers a short-term boost,” Robertson said.

Online sales continued to grow meanwhile, up 9.0 percent on a year earlier, though this was the slightest increase seen since November 2011.  The BRC points out that, on the whole, the amount of sales directed through online sales remains small compared to traditional retail channels.

“The general trend for online retail is a slowing rate of growth, which is a sign of the market maturing,” Robertson said. “Growth of nine percent for this April is respectable but well behind the increase of almost 14 percent for the same month last year.”

Online retailers such as Ebay have been targeting new methods of sales, with a larger portion of revenues coming through mobile sales.  However this is not having a substantial impact in the short term.

“There’s major growth in sales being made via mobiles but that’s still a very small proportion of all the business being done,” Robertson pointed out.

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