Friday 17 August 2018

Snow chilled UK's March sales tally

Stock image
Stock image

David Goodman

UK retail sales plunged in March as snow and freezing temperatures kept consumers indoors and disrupted deliveries of stock.

The same weather-linked trend is likely to be seen here when March figures for Ireland are released on April 27.

In the UK, the volume of goods sold in stores and online declined 1.2pc, double the drop predicted by economists, figures from the Office for National Statistics Thursday show. Sales excluding auto fuel fell 0.5pc, also more than forecast.

The pound weakened after the data.

Travel chaos paralyzed Britain from late February, when the 'Beast from the East' and then Storm Emma brought sub-zero temperatures and blizzard-like conditions to much of the country. Another blast swept in around the middle of the month.

Among the worst hit were sales of clothing and household goods, down 0.7pc and 0.2pc respectively.

Supermarkets saw sales fall 0.6pc and sales of diesel and petrol plunged 7.4pc.

The pound dropped for a third day, falling 0.2pc to $1.4176 at one stage yesterday.

Consumers turned to online shopping and local food stores amid the bad weather. Department stores were a beneficiary, seeing sales rise 0.8pc on the month. Online sales overall accounted for 17.4pc of sales in March, a record high.

There was also a boost from spending on gifts ahead of Mother's Day and Easter, with the long holiday weekend starting earlier than usual this year on March 30.

Sales between January and March fell 0.5pc, the worst quarterly performance in a year and enough to dent overall growth. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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