Looks like George Osborne has his work cut out if he is going to stimulate some growth and consumer spending. The latest figures from the Office of National National Statistics show that retail volumes fell by 0.8% compared to the previous month. Now, we don't like to make too many month on month comparisons as last month the ONS reported a increase of 0.9%. But wait, this month they have said they made a mistake and that the growth was only 0.3%. The year on year picture is not too bad as sales volumes have risen overall by 1.7% but the fall by 0.8% has taken the markets by surprise. Some of the biggest sales falls were seen in clothing and footwear, where sales volumes were down 0.4% in February, the ONS said. Heavy discounted in earlier months were previously supporting volumes but this was unsustainable. Note that these figures relate to volumes not actual spending which are published by the British Retail Consortium. As such, they measure the size of the shopping bags as opposed to the amount actually spent as it were.. That said it is still a useful indicator.
Game Group plc is the latest large retailer to go into administration which has 1,300 stores in the UK.
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