June 9, 2014 / 11:01 PM / in 4 years

UK retail sales growth eases in May, pegged back by food - BRC

LONDON, June 10 (Reuters) - British retail sales growth slowed last month after a bumper April, pegged back by slumping food sales, the British Retail Consortium said on Tuesday.

The BRC said the amount of money spent in stores last month was 2.0 percent higher than a year ago, compared with a 5.7 percent rise in April that was boosted by the timing of the Easter holidays.

Clothes stores enjoyed the fastest growth since December 2011, the BRC said, but in the food sector the 3-month average year-on-year change turned negative for the first time since records started in 2008.

Total spending for the three months to May was 2.3 percent higher than a year earlier, as the BRC reported strong big ticket sales on goods like televisions and gaming consoles.

“The recovery is gaining pace in the retail sector, but the latest figures reveal the scale of the paradox that has emerged,” said David McCorquodale, head of retail at survey sponsor KPMG.

“While non-food retailers are seeing steady sales growth, the grocers appear locked in a race to the bottom, imposing price cut after price cut to maintain their sales volumes.”

The BRC said that on a like-for-like basis - a measure that adjusts for changes in floor space, and is favoured by equity analysts - retail sales in May were 0.5 percent up on 2013, compared with 4.2 percent in April.

Britain’s Office for National Statistics releases its May sales numbers on June 19. The ONS data covers more small stores than the BRC, and focuses more on the volume of goods sold than the amount of money households spend.

Official retail sales volumes jumped 1.3 percent on the month to show 6.9 percent growth on the year, its highest annual growth rate since May 2004, albeit skewed like the BRC data by the timing of Easter. (Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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