Retail sales hit by early Easter
UK like-for-like retail sales edged down 0.7% year-on-year in March although sales were distorted by the earlier timing of Easter this year. On a total basis sales were flat.
The figures from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor show that food sales over the last three months fell by 0.7% to mark the largest decrease since June.
Meanwhile, non-food sales rose by 3% with big ticket items continuing to do well and furniture being the main contributor to the total sales growth. However, clothing and footwear sales showed their largest decline since September 2014, despite increased promotional activity.
Helen Dickinson chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Looking at the long-term picture, the rolling 12-month average growth slowed to 1.4%, its lowest since August 2015. This slowdown can’t be viewed in isolation; retail is an industry undergoing significant structural change as the investment in the digital offer continues apace while, from a consumer perspective, more disposable income is being spent on leisure and entertainment.”
Meanwhile, online sales of non-food products in the UK grew by 9.5% in March compared to the same month a year earlier. Online sales represented 20.5% of total non-food sales, which meant the online penetration rate remained above 20% for the third consecutive month.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “While online growth slowed further in March - dropping below 10% for non-food sales, penetration rates rose slightly remaining above 20% for the third consecutive month as colder March weather meant consumers shied away from the shelves in favour of the sofa.
“Homeware categories once again stood out as consumers took advantage of school holidays and long Easter weekend to spruce up their homes. Elsewhere, Mother’s Day boosted sales of accessories and beauty products as Mums were treated to something special by loved ones.”
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