BRC figures show little improvement in May
Poor retail sales figures for May, little improved on April, could halt the few remaining optimists who have been predicting that consumer confidence will soon bounce back.

The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor show that retail sales fell in May, down 2.4 per cent compared with May last year.

BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins (pictured) said: 'These figures should remove any lingering doubt that we are now in a consumer-led recession.'

Inconsistent weather and the slowing housing market have both contributed to poor sales figures.

The housing market slowdown has meant a hard month for vendors selling white goods, such as washes, fridges and cookers and household furnishings.

It was hoped that a prolonged period of good weather would help counter the ongoing slowdown in consumer confidence. However, the warm weather didn't last long enough to bring a warm glow to sales of furnishings, clothing, footwear and health and beauty products.

KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson said 'Although this [the weather] excuse is often trotted out as the reason for sluggish sales, there is no doubt that it really has impacted trading this month, in a tough environment. May 2004 was warm and sunny across the country, but we have yet to see that repeated for anything more than a day here or there this year.'