Highstreet sales for Feb hit three year high

highstreet South endFebruary brought with it a breath of fresh air for the high street, with figures showing sales grew at their fastest rates in years.

In its latest report, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said dry weather last month encouraged people to venture out, with figures rising by 2.7 percent on the previous year and marking the fastest growing rate in three years.

Electrical goods were said to fuel the figures with the BRC describing these as the growth engine of the high street, with “big ticket goods and items for the home recovering particularly well”.

Despite the horse meat scandal, food grew by one percent, although frozen burger sales fell in favour of ingredients to make products from scratch.

The organisation pushed once again for changes in the upcoming Budget to ensure the high street continued to dig its way out of despair, claiming that the government had to realise that retail is central to generating growth and jobs critical to the UK’s economic recovery.

However, it pointed out that weak consumer confidence was the real and present obstacle, and as a result the Chancellor had to create a Budget that left people with “more money in their pockets and the confidence to spend it and retailers with the means to invest”.

It also reiterated that if the proposed rise in business rates went ahead then retailers would be placed under “inexorable pressure”.

The BRC figures contrasted with a recent CBI survey which reported that food stores suffered their worst performance for five years in February.

Although the BRC painted a rosier-than-usual picture, high street staple Debenhams recently issued a profit warning, claiming the bad weather in January could dent its margins.

It said that earnings would miss expectations and that underlying revenues were 10 percent lower in the affected fortnight, compared with a five percent rise over the festive period.

Revised profits for the six months to 2 March will now stand at around £120 million, against £128.5 million a year earlier and City forecasts in the £131 million area.