Election uncertainty hits high street sales

Pre-election uncertainty affected the high street in April as like for like sales fell 2.3% against the same month last year, according to the latest British Retail Consortium figures.

High street
High street

Sales were also distorted by Easter falling in different months between 2008 and 2010, making comparisons difficult.

Total sales fell 0.2% compared to April 2010.

Sales over the past three months, which cancels out the distortion of Easter timings, saw like-for-like sales up by 1.6% on April 2009 and by 3.8% overall.

Non-food sales were down 2.1% like for like and 4.4% overall as consumers stuck to essential purchases over discretionary items as uncertainty over the election affected consumer confidence.

Non-store sales, which include internet, catalogue and phone sales, were 15.8% up on April last year in line with growth in previous months.

Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium director general, says: “There’s no question customers are more willing to spend than 12 months ago but still nervous. People need to know how a new Government’s moves to tackle the deficit will affect their incomes and jobs. Even if the measures are tough, knowing what they are could be better than the current uncertainty.”

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