BRC figures show furniture sales plunge

The crisis in consumer confidence is continuing as cash-strapped consumers stay away from so-called “big-ticket” retail purchases, according to the British Retail Consortium which released sales figures for March today.

Furniture sales were the worst in nine years, helping to deliver a ninth consecutive month on negative growth compared to the previous year, despite better than expected clothing and food sales.

Total value sales rose by 0.6%, helped by an “inflation driven” 6.3% in total food sales and a smaller decline of 2.1% in total non-food sales as clothing, footwear and outdoor leisure purchases were boosted by warm weather.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson warns against counting on the “slight air of spring optimism” in some areas of retail. “This is unlikely to be the basis of sustained improvement. Customers are still worried about jobs and their own finances – so they’re keeping spending under tight control.

A revival in sales of big-ticket items would indicate confidence is coming back but, despite the discounts, furniture sales were the worst for at least nine years,” he added.

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