Online sales fall back in February

Online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell to 17.6 per cent in February from the 18.8 per cent in January 2019 – although this was a year-on-year increase of 9.4 per cent when compared with February 2018.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that in the three months to February 2019, the quantity bought across the UK increased by 0.7 per cent when compared with the previous three months, with strong growth in non-store retailing and fuel.

The monthly growth rate in the quantity bought in February rose by 0.4 per cent, with a decline of 1.2 per cent in food stores offset by growth in all other main sectors.

Meanwhile, the monthly fall in food stores was the strongest decline since December 2016, down 1.5 per cent, reversing the increase of 0.9 per cent in January, with food retailers suggesting that “getting back to normal” following the January sales had contributed to this fall.

Year-on-year growth in the quantity bought in February increased by four per cent, with growth in all main sectors, while the only sub-sector to show a decline within non-food stores was household goods stores, down 1.3 per cent.

Rachel Lund, head of insight and analytics at the British Retail Consortium, commented that retail sales were fairly sluggish in February.

"Food sales growth was particularly hard hit, in part due to consumers buying extra provisions in February 2018 before the arrival of the ‘Beast from the East’. Non-Food sales were more robust, offering some relief for those retailers."

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