Sales up but consumers still wary

The high street enjoyed a rise in sales in August but consumer spending is still being knocked by fears over government spending cuts, according to the British Retail Consortium.

The BRC Retail Sales Monitor revealed that like for like sales increased 1% in August compared with a year ago. The figure is an improvement on the 0.5% rise in July.

However, the BRC warned that the comparison is against a particularly poor performance in 2009.

Total sales increased 2.8% compared to the same month last year.

Food sales growth slowed during the month as cold weather hit but clothing sales were boosted by back to school purchases and winter clothing. Big-ticket purchases are still being affected by uncertainty over job cuts and income prospects, the BRC says.

Stephen Robertson, BRC director general, says: “The good news is sales are still growing but anxiety about job cuts and tax rises is putting people off making major spending commitments.

With the Government about to detail its cuts and a VAT rise in prospect, retailers will be hoping consumer confidence doesn’t slip over the next few months.”

Non-food non-store sales, which includes online, catalogue and phone sales were 17.8% higher than a year ago and up on the 11.3% gain in July.

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