Food sales growth fell further to show its smallest gain since July 2007. Lower food inflation, less need to buy after stocking up in January’s snow and a return to more cautious spending after Christmas all contributed to the slowdown.Shoppers returned to the high street in February after a slow, snow-bound January, with retail sales bouncing back to 2.2 per cent last month.
But the BRC warned against reading too much into its February figures, which come after a dire February last year when snow saw sales plunge by 1.8 per cent.
The rise in like-for-like sales marked a welcome rebound on the poor start to 2010 for retailers, with official statistics recently confirming a bigger-than-expected 1.8 per cent drop in January sales, according to data released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Having treated themselves at Christmas, some shoppers were now returning to value ranges and seeking out good deals and promotions, according to the BRC.
Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: "Despite appearances, these results are not that strong. The growth is compared with very weak figures a year ago when February saw the worst of last winter's weather and this February's performance was helped by sales postponed from January - particularly sales of non-food items such as cheap mountain bike, homewares and fashion.
"Consumer confidence is certainly up on this time last year but, with unemployment rising again, spending plans are falling. When the weather-related distortions are stripped away, it's clear customers are still cautious."
"IGD consumer research suggests that in-store promotions can be more effective with shoppers than television or magazine advertising. More than a third of shoppers say that promotions in supermarkets tempt them to try a new product, compared with 29 per cent for advertising.”
Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of the IGD, said: “In February, grocery retailers set out highly competitive promotions focused, above all, on Valentine’s Day. However, falling levels of inflation contributed towards slower growth in food and drink sales values over the month, with volumes remaining robust.
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