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Retail sales growth slows in February

Tuesday March 8th 2016

UK like-for-like retail sales edged up 0.1% year-on-year in February with growth mainly driven by furniture and home accessories. On a total basis, sales were up 1.1%.

The figures from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor show that growth slowed after January’s acceleration when like-for-like and total sales increased by 2.6% and 3.3% respectively.

Last month, the food, clothing and footwear categories all experienced declines on a like-for-like basis.

Helen Dickinson chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “February’s slowdown was noticeable across all product categories bar stationery and health & beauty, as Valentine’s Day provided a welcome growth spurt for those retailers well prepared for the occasion.

“The fashion categories struggled while some growth was noted in books and vision.

“Competition remained strong in the grocery sector, while consumers proved willing to spend money on large ticket items, namely furniture, driving the month’s performance.”

Meanwhile, online sales of non-food products in the UK grew by 10.7% in February versus a year earlier. Online sales represented 20.4% of total non-food sales, against 18.9% in February 2015.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Online growth rates slowed in February in what is normally a quiet retail month. However, with this channel still showing double-digit growth and penetration above 20%, it remains a very significant contributor to non-food sales growth.

“Much is being done to eliminate barriers between channels as the consumer is channel agnostic. However, the shift in shopping habits to the online channel is also bringing renewed focus on the role of the store.”