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Wednesday 26 February 2020


Retail sales break 2% in January

Written by Peter Walker

UK retail sales increased on a total basis by 2.2 per cent in January, against an increase of 1.4 per cent in January 2018, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG statistics.

This was the highest growth since June and above both the three-month and 12-month averages of 0.8 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively.

However, over the three months to January, in-store sales of non-food items declined 2.6 per cent on a total basis and 3.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis. This is below the 12-month total average decline of 2.3 per cent.

Over the same period, food sales increased by 2.4 per cent on a total basis, the highest since September. Although, this was below the 12-month total average growth of three per cent, which is the lowest since September 2017.

Online sales of non-food products grew 5.4 per cent in January, against a growth of 5.3 per cent in January 2018. This is above the three-month average of 4.8 per cent, but below the 12-month average of seven per cent.

This is the lowest three-month average since BRC and KPMG started measuring online figures in December 2012.

The online penetration rate increased from 28.2 per cent in January 2018 to 29.4 per cent last month.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson welcomed the return to growth after December’s disappointing sales figures.

“While retail discounts helped tempt cautious consumers, there is no guarantee this momentum will continue after the sales have finished – and it will not just be brick-and-mortar stores looking nervously to the future, as online sales continued to grow below the long term trend.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “The colder weather and continual discounting drove up fashion sales, whilst the increased focus indoors also boosted furniture sales, however, not all categories or players have been so fortunate, and even online growth continued to slow.

“Eyes are naturally fixed on who the next casualty will be, but we can’t afford to overlook those excelling despite adverse conditions,” he continued, adding: “Winning retailers remain attractive to investors and consumers; they are adaptive and agile, and ultimately they continue to outperform in this rapidly evolving market.”


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