Consumers are making fewer purchases leading to a decline in the retail sector.
High Street sales may improve over the bank holiday season.
Retail sales in the UK have fallen to their lowest level since the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) records first began in 1996.
Total sales were down by 1.9% from the same period last year with the BRC explaining that shoppers seemed reluctant to makes purchases “unless they really had to”.
Sales of food and drink, homeware, electricals and clothing fell – footwear was the only area which experienced growth.
Internet sales also fell marking their slowest growth since records began in 2008.
Helen Dickinson, head of retail at survey partner KPMG said: “We have seen an emergence of new, lower spending patterns since the middle of January, which are currently continuing to trend downwards”.
She continued: “Many retailers will not be able to sustain this ongoing weakness in demand beyond the short-term and are hoping for some good news around the extended bank holiday period and a feel-good factor driven by the royal wedding”.
However, research group Springboard found that the number of consumers that visited the High Street had actually risen by 7.8% in March from February.
Steve Booth, Springboard’s chief executive, said: “Whilst it is early days, this starts to tell a positive story about how consumers are returning to their local High Streets”.