BRC: May wobbles show High Street is still tough

British Retail Consortium reports UK retail sales were 2.1 per cent lower on May 2010.
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Sales figures for May have given a more realistic reflection of how tough conditions still are on the High Street, the British Retail Consortium has said today.

UK retail sales values were 2.1 per cent lower on a like for like basis from May 2010, when sales had risen 0.8 per cent. On a total basis, sales were down 0.3 per cent, against a 3.0 per cent increase last May.

In terms of the sectors, clothing sales fell back below their year-earlier level, weakening later in the month as the weather cooled. Childrenswear suffered most, but this had been strongest in April.

Despite some improvement from April, home textiles and accessories sales both remained weak. Book sales also remained down on a year ago, despite a little boost from the Royal Wedding, which also helped magazines. Outdoor toys fell back as the sun disappeared, computer and electronic games were slow and DVD and video remained tough.

"After two previous months distorted by the later Easter and extra bank holiday, this is a more realistic reflection of how tough conditions on the High Street really are," said Stephen Robertson, director general, BRC. "The first half of May was better than the second, when the weather turned unseasonably wet and cold in many parts of the country, but customers' fundamental reluctance to spend is now clear to see."

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