Responding to the latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures, which showed sales up 3.1% by value, and down 0.5% by volume, Kris Hamer, Director of Insight at the British Retail Consortium, said:  

February sales were hit by the wettest February on record, which dampened demand and depressed footfall. This was felt most in the more high-ticket categories such as furniture and electricals. Meanwhile, cosmetics and toiletries continued to sell well as popular brands go from strength to strength. Retailers are hopeful that with warmer weather and potential interest rate cuts around the corner, consumer confidence will soon spring back.
A strong retail industry is essential for boosting investment in town and city centres nationwide. The next Government must address the high and rising cost burdens that retailers face, now and in the future; these include April’s 6.7% business rates rise, ill-thought-out recycling proposals, and new border control costs – all in the context of the largest rise to National Living Wage on record. Without action, these costs continue to hold back investment in shops, in more jobs and lower prices across the country - meaning it is the consumers who ultimately pay the price.