British shoppers are increasingly seeking bargains to offset rising inflation


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WHERE HAVE ALL THE SHOPPERS GONE? Economy In Free Fall?

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British shoppers are increasingly seeking bargains to offset rising inflation and employers are finding it harder to recruit migrant workers, according to surveys published on Tuesday which reflected the impact of last year’s Brexit vote.

Total retail sales showed their strongest year-on-year growth in six years in April, but the jump largely reflected the timing of the Easter holiday which fell in March last year but in April in 2017, the British Retail Consortium said.

Rising prices for goods in shops – pushed up in many cases by a fall in the value of the pound – were also a factor behind the 6.3 percent increase in the value of sales, it said.

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“Looking to the longer-term signs of a slowdown, the outlook isn’t as rosy,” BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said.

Consumers were focussing increasingly on saving money by buying cheaper, own-label brands from supermarkets and were being more cautious about non-food spending, she said.

On a like-for-like basis – which excludes new store openings – sales were up by 5.6 percent in April compared with the same month last year, the BRC said. They call it the “experience economy”: a huge shift in consumer behaviour is said to be under way, from buying things to doing things.

The demise of high street stalwarts BHS and Austin Reed, poor retail spending figures and a downturn in the number of people visiting high streets and shopping centres, are all being held up as evidence that Britons’ priorities are changing.