News: Retail Sales Fall 0.7%

Retail sales fell in January to record the worst performance for that month in 15 years, a survey by the British Retail Consortium showed on Tuesday.

The BRC said the value of sales last month was 0.7 percent lower than a year ago when measured on a like-for-like basis. That followed a 4.2 percent annual gain in December. Total sales, which include new floorspace, rose by 1.2 percent on the year in January.

“An awful start to the year and in stark contrast to an upbeat December. This is the worst January sales growth in the 15 years we have been running the survey,” said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.

He said the snow at the start of the month had boosted food sales but hit other sectors. Food sales growth slowed in the second half of the month, however, and clothing and footwear sales picked up. Some consumers may also have brought forward their purchases to December to beat VAT going back up to 17.5 percent on Jan 1 after the cut to 15 percent over 2009.

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