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Sunday 18 August 2019


Online retailers and department stores feel January blues

Written by Peter Walker

Department stores were the only retailers to show a decrease in both the quantity bought and the amount spent last month - at negative 0.6 per cent for both measures - according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Textile, clothing and footwear stores showed strong growth at 5.5 per cent in the quantity bought, as stores took advantage of the January sales, with a price fall of 0.9 per cent.

Non-store retailing continued to show strong growth at 14.3 per cent for the quantity bought and amount spent, while prices remained flat.

Online sales as a total of all retailing decreased to 18.8 per cent in January, from the 19.8 per cent reported in December.

Whilst non-food stores and non-store retailers both saw falls in their proportions of online sales last month, food stores saw their proportion increase to 5.8 per cent from the 5.7 per cent reported the previous month.

Online sales increased by 9.8 per cent for the amount spent in January when compared with the previous year, with all sectors showing year-on-year growth.

The month-on-month picture was one of declines in growth, with online sales decreasing by a third when compared with December, as expected following the Christmas sales. All other sectors reported falls when compared with the previous month, with department stores reporting the second-largest monthly fall of 41.7 per cent.

Manu Tyagi, associate partner for retail and consumer goods at Infosys Consulting, claimed that contrary to recent headlines, the ONS figures highlight the UK High Street is far from dead.

“In fact, the figures show that January 2019 has broadly returned to a strong growth rate of 4.2 per cent – the highest since December 2016,” he noted.

“Frankly, UK retail is in the middle of a reinvention whereby the fittest, who are adapting to new consumer preferences, are the ones surviving and even thriving – these retailers have acknowledged that consumers will spend wherever they get the best combination of choice, convenience, price, and experience.”

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