Retail like-for-like sales down 1% in February following strong January
UK retail sales suffered a slowdown in February as the months wet weather impacted spending on the high street.
Figures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG in their monthly retail sales monitor show that like-for-like sales were down 1% on February 2013 while total sales edged up 0.7%.
Home accessories was the top performing category, followed by furniture and flooring which was the greatest contributor to overall growth. However, food sales remained relatively flat.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "Our sales figures for February show a slower pace of growth in the retail industry than in previous months, underlining that the consumer-led recovery is still developing.
"However, this slower growth might have been expected in some ways, given the record sales figures we saw in January and the strong results that we are comparing against from last year. If they were taken together, the figures from the last three months show a 2.8% average growth in the retail industry, a modest increase on the 12 month average.”
Meanwhile, other figures from the BRC and KPMG show that online sales of non-food products grew 14.3% year-on-year in February and represented 17.5% of total non-food sales. This compares to an online penetration rate of 15.4% in February 2013.
Online sales contributed 2.1 percentage points to the growth of non-food total sales in the month. If online sales were excluded, the BRC said that non-food store sales would have been down in February and that half of the categories – clothing, footwear and other non-food – would have shown a decline.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: "After suffering one of the wettest winters on record it's perhaps unsurprising that shoppers preferred to shop from the sanctuary of their sofas in February. Online played a crucial role this month, and without internet sales, non-food sales would have fallen into negative territory.
“Online sales remain a key pillar of retailers' revenues and this absolutely justifies the extensive investment being made to improve multichannel operations and the experience retailers deliver to customers both online and in store."
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