BRC figures show growth slows in February
Retail sales in the UK during February rose 0.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis against a weak comparative in February 2005, when sales fell, according to the British Retail Consortium's latest retail sales monitor.

The three-month trend rate of sales growth weakened in February to 0.9 per cent from 1.1 per cent in January on a like-for-like basis, but rose to 4.2 per cent from 3.6 per cent for total sales, reflecting continuing growth in retail space.

Spring/summer ranges had a slow start, with footfall down and consumers 'often still in a winter mindset', said the BRC. Clothing and footwear showed some uplift in the final week, but were still difficult sectors overall. Food sales improved, helped by Valentine's Day.

'These results underline the continuing squeeze on consumer spending and, contrary to the Bank of England's expectations, there is no sign of an upturn,' ruminated BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins. 'Reports of a recovery in the housing market have yet to work through to big-ticket product categories.

'The like-for-like figure of 0.6 per cent represents the fourth consecutive month of growth, a trend not seen since October 2004,' added KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson. 'However, it comes on the back of weak figures in February 2005 and hence is no cause for celebration.'