Non-food retail sales fell in the three months to February 2017, making it the first quarterly decline for the category since November 2011.
The latest Retail Sales Monitor from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG found non-food retail sales fell 0.4% on a like-for-like basis and 0.2% on a total basis in the three months to February, dragging the 12-month total average growth to 0.6% – the lowest since May 2012.
Over the three-months online sales of non-food products grew 7.7%, while in-store sales declined 2.4% on a total basis and 2.6% on a like-for-like basis.
Looking specifically at February, UK retail sales decreased by 0.4% on a like-for-like basis from February 2016, when they had increased 0.1% from the preceding year.
On a total basis, sales rose 0.4% in February against a 1.1% increase in February 2016. This remains below the three-month average of 0.8% and the 12-month average of 0.9%.
A decline in jewellery sales during the month could possibly be put down to the later timing of Mother’s Day this year.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the BRC, said: “The persistent weak sales performance of several non-food categories points to an undeniable trend of cautious spending on non-essential items.
“Tougher times are expected ahead. The impact of inflation on consumer spending will add further intensity to an already fiercely competitive environment in which the ability to adapt and innovate will be key to survival.”