The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said there is an urgent need for the measures outlined in the Budget to boost consumer confidence, following a "dramatic slowdown" in the retail sector.

Responding to the February sales index figures released by the Office of National Statistics yesterday (24 March), the BRC warned that customers and retailers face increasingly challenging times.

"Customers are seriously concerned about jobs and mounting pressures on their own finances. Food spending is holding up. It's sales of things like clothing and household goods that are struggling most," said BRC director general Stephen Robertson

According to the ONS's statistics, UK food retailers recorded declining sales volumes during February, down some 2.2% against February 2010.

Between January and February, grocery retailers recorded a decline of 0.4% in sales volumes, while during the three months to February, food sales declined by 1.2% against the three months before it.

Meanwhile, food sales were down some 2.9% during the three months to February against the same period of 2010.