UK sees biggest fall in non-food spending since 2009

Published on: January 10th, 2018

Inflation-squeezed British shoppers cut back on almost everything other than food in the last three months of 2017.

British inflation rose to its highest in nearly six years in November at 3.1%, largely as a result of the pound’s fall after June 2016’s Brexit vote, and many consumer-facing businesses have been coming under increased pressure.

The British Retail Consortium, which represents large chains, said overall spending in the last three months of 2017 rose by a sluggish 1.1%, compared with an average annual growth rate of 1.7% for 2017 as a whole.

Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, commented: “Growth in spending was in line with the average for the year. However, the divergence between growth in sales of food and non-food has never been so stark.”

Non-food sales fell by 1.4% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, the biggest drop since March 2009, while food sales grew by 4.2%, the biggest jump since June.

Visa said on Monday that a broader measure of consumer spending fell in December for the first time since 2012.

The BRC said clothing sales did better last month than a year earlier, helped by colder-than-normal weather, while jewellery and toys underperformed compared with the year before.

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