May shows little improvement over depressed April figures
Falling retail sales figures and a drop in customer traffic are causing concern at the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Disappointing shopper numbers for last month, particularly in London, reinforce the CBI's report earlier this week of gloomy retail trading for a third successive month.

The latest figures from retail traffic monitor SPSL show May figures were down again, by 0.5 per cent compared with the same period last year. Footfall was up 0.3 points on the Retail Traffic Index, compared with depressed levels in April.

Traffic figures for London and the Southeast were the worst this millennium, according to SPSL, which reported visitor numbers down 5.2 per cent for last year.

BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins said: 'The BRC is concerned at the retail sales figures released by the CBI and SPSL in the past few days, highlighting not only a worrying decline in retail sales, but also a marked decrease in the number of people visiting stores. Retailers are clearly facing an increasingly difficult set of trading circumstances, which are showing no immediate sign of abating.'

The CBI's quarterly Distributive Trades Survey, published this week, found that the volume of retail sales fell in the year to May, for the third successive month.

Under the circumstances the BRC said that the Bank of England has no justification to increase interest rates.