Non-food stores report first sales fall in 13 months

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The Independent Online

Retailers saw sales growth slow sharply last month as demand for non-food goods slid for the first time in more than a year, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Like-for-like sales grew in September by 0.5 per cent year on year, a significant drop on the 1 per cent reported in August, the BRC said.

Shoppers' fears of cutbacks and rising unemployment hit sales of "big-ticket" items ahead of the Coalition's public spending cuts, with furniture such as fitted kitchens and bathrooms affected. This left non-food sales in the red for the first time since August 2009.

Stephen Robertson, of the BRC, said what growth there was came largely from food producers, predominantly driven by food inflation at about 4 per cent. "Sales growth continues to be poor. We have now had six straight months of low growth thanks to persistently weak consumer confidence and worries about the future," he said.

There was little sign yet of shoppers bringing forward purchases to beat the VAT rise in January, he added. The three-month average to September showed like-for-like food sales up 2.1 per cent and non-food down 0.4 per cent.