Total retail sales decreased by -0.5% in March, against an increase of +2.3% in March 2018, according to BRC-KPMG. This was below both the three-month and 12-month average increases of +0.6% and +0.9% respectively.

UK retail sales decreased by -1.1% YoY on a LFL basis.

Online sales of non-food products grew +3.0% in March, against a growth of +7.9% in March 2018, while the online penetration rate increased to 29.9%.

These figures are negatively distorted by the timing of the run-up to Easter, which is in April this year, not March.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE says: “Retail sales slowed in March, even when the Easter distortions were accounted for, as greater uncertainty caused people to hold off from splashing out. While jewellery, beauty products and clothing purchases were all up to indulge on Mother’s Day, shoppers were generally cautious not to overspend, particularly on larger items. 

“Brexit continues to feed the uncertainty among consumers. For the sake of everyone, MPs must rally behind a plan of action that avoids no deal – and quickly – or it will be ordinary families who suffer as a result of higher prices and less choice on the shelves.”

Furniture sales were down YoY, but the category climbed to ninth place of 13, from 12th place in February.