United Kingdom retail sales saw a slowdown in January

Over the three-months to January, Non-Food retail sales in the United Kingdom rose 0.2% on a like-for-like basis and 0.3% on a total basis, the lowest average growth rate since July 2012.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive, British Retail Consortium, said: "After a strong end to the Christmas trading, year on year sales growth ground to a halt, compensated only by stronger furniture sales and a boost for some retailers from Chinese New Year".

Retailers were up against it this year, competing with a strong January 2016 in which sales were up 2.6 percent. This shows the slowest growth since July 2012.

The figures were largely driven by slower non-food sales, although spending on groceries held up.

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United Kingdom retailers got off to a bad start in 2017, as consumers reined in spending after the festive season.

"While this may appear disappointing overall, retailers were up against a strong January previous year to try and deliver a repeat performance and many reported an increase in the number of returns received in January", BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

"With the signs pointing to upward pressures on shop prices given rising import costs, all eyes will be on the impact of inflation on consumer spending".

Over the last three months, LFL food sales increased 0.6% and 2.0% on a total basis, above the 12-month average.

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That consumer credit uptake may have correspondingly eased may actually be read by some, including the Bank of England, as a welcome development, ameliorating its concerns about the heat of that market.

"It was stores that bore the brunt of the slowdown; posting their deepest three-month decline on record as the demand during retailers" clearance sales was predominantly online'.

"Online channels achieved the highest share of total non-food retail spend on record in the three months to January, despite the 8 per cent growth being somewhat below the trend of late", Dickinson continued.

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