retail sales
MANCHESTER, UK - APRIL 22, 2013: People visit shopping area in Manchester, UK.

UK retail sales were hit by the ‘Beast from the East’ in March, recording the weakest monthly figures since April 2013.

Sales fell for the first time in five months in March, as the heavy snow brought by ‘Beast from the East’ slowed down deliveries and put shoppers off venturing out to the shops. Figures have also been affected by weak wage growth and growing inflation, meaning consumers have less disposable income, according to the survey by the Confederation of British Industry released on Wednesday.

“Against a backdrop of stagnating household incomes and weak consumer confidence, the lengthy cold snap earlier this month has heaped added pressure on retailers,” Ben Jones, a CBI economist, said.

“Freezing conditions and transport disruption caused people to avoid the high street. With many forced to work from home, telecoms firms saw record internet traffic, yet on-line shopping slowed sharply given the potential for disrupted deliveries.”

Volume of orders placed with suppliers remained broadly unchanged, and the fall in retail sales was broad-based. There were lower sales at department stores, as well as furniture & carpets, clothing, and other normal goods.