FALLING RETAIL SALES HIGHLIGHT OBSTACLES FACING UK ECONOMY
April 18 2013.



Retail sales volumes fell 0.7% in March 2013, but there was positive growth of 0.4% between Q1 2013 and Q4 2012

Commenting on the retail sales figures for March, published today by the ONS, John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: "The fall in retail sales is disappointing and provides further confirmation that the UK's economic performance remains far too weak. Although it is possible that the UK economy may narrowly avoid entering a new recession, the weak economic climate means that the outlook for retailers is likely to remain challenging for some time. Against this backdrop, we urge the government to do all it can to help support enterprise and wealth creation and open up new opportunities for UK firms to exploit both at home and abroad."

David Kern, Chief Economist at the BCC added: "The fall in retail sales was largely anticipated, coming after a particularly strong rebound in February. Sales in the non-food sector were particularly weak, mainly in reaction to the exceptionally cold weather in March. However the positive growth in sales between Q1 2013 and Q4 2012 is encouraging and reinforces our hope that we will see small GDP growth, as the resilient services sector offsets any weaker areas of the economy, such as manufacturing and construction.

"The overall economic background facing the UK remains very challenging. The latest IMF forecast downgraded its prediction for the global economy and the eurozone. This makes it doubly important to rely as much as possible on domestic demand while supporting exporters. The government must play its role by implementing measures to boost growth, focusing on deregulation, and better access to finance."