BRC-KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor March 2014

BRC-KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor March 2014

Online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 12.8% in March versus a year earlier.

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Key points:
  • Online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 12.8% in March versus a year earlier. In March 2013, they had increased by 6.2% over the previous year.
  • In March, online sales represented 17.3% of total Non-Food sales of our Monitor, against 15.8% in March 2013.
  • Furniture saw a decline, while the Other Non-Food category was the strongest contributor to growth. Excluding online, that category would have seen no growth.
  • Online sales contributed 1.6 percentage points to the growth of Non-Food total sales, one of the highest contributions outside Christmas, flattered by a low base in March 2013, which included Easter.


Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "The long Easter holiday often provides consumers with an opportunity to go out to visit the shops and so the lateness of the break this year has helped to contribute to a growth in online sales."

"Online made up 17.3 per cent of total non-food sales this month. The contribution to overall growth of non-food, at 1.6 per cent, is also one of the biggest boosts we have seen from online sales outside the Christmas period. Electrical items and other non-food performed particularly strongly."

"Those retailers who have developed compelling internet and multi-channel offers will have been seen good results in March. To understand the full underlying trend, it will be important to see April’s results as well."


David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: Whilst store sales suffered from Easter falling into April this year, online benefited from this lack of distraction: sales increased by 13 per cent on last year’s levels when the bank holiday tempted shoppers away from their devices.

These figures demonstrate that sometimes what hurts the high street helps online sales, but only those retailers with strong multichannel operations will feel the benefits. If the weather holds, this trend could reverse next month, with online sales growth slowing, whilst the high street sees an uptick in footfall as people head out to enjoy the bank holiday.

Another contributing factor to this year on year rise is consumers’ ever increasing access to 4G technology. 4G makes the online shopping experience faster and far more reliable by reducing drop-out rates. This technological advance means transactions can be completed more successfully and should encourage more consumers to opt for the convenience of mobile shopping, driving the shift from in store to online.


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The Online BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor measures changes in the actual value (including VAT) of online retail sales, excluding automotive fuel. The Monitor measures the value of spending and hence does not adjust for price or VAT changes. If prices are rising, sales volumes will increase by less than sales values. In times of price deflation, sales volumes will increase by more than sales values.

Retailers report the value of their online sales for the current period and the equivalent period a year ago.


Total Non-Food sales growth is the percentage change in the value of all retail sales with the exception of food sales compared to the same period a year earlier. The total Non-Food sales measure is used to assess market level trends in Non-Food retail sales. Non-Food retail spending represents approximately 55% of total retail sales.


Online (including mail order and phone) sales of Non-Food are transactions which take place over the internet, or via mail order or phone. Online sales growth is the percentage change in the value of online sales compared to those in the same period a year earlier. It is a guide to the growth of sales made by all non-store channels.


Penetration is the proportion of sales attributed to the online channel (including mail order and phone). Penetrations are calculated category by category as online sales submitted by participating retailers relative to total sales those retailers submit to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. Participants who do not sell online (or through non-store channels) are included but participants who do sell online but do not submit their online sales are excluded.


The responses provided by retailers within each sales category are weighted* to reflect the contribution of each category to total retail sales, thus making it representative of UK retail sales as a whole. The rates used are derived from the Office of National Statistics Family Spending Survey and revised every year. Because the figures compare sales this month with the comparable period last year, a seasonal adjustment is not made. However, changes in the timing of Bank Holidays and Easter can create distortions, which should be considered in the interpretation of the data.

In its role as sponsor of the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, KPMG is responsible for the aggregation of the retail sales data provided by the retailers on a weekly basis. This data consists of the relevant current week’s sales data and comparative sales figures for the same period in the prior year. The aggregation has been performed by KPMG on data for periods following 2 April 2000 and equivalent prior periods. The accuracy of the data is entirely the responsibility of the retailers providing it. The sponsorship role has been performed by KPMG since 10 April 2000 and the same for the aggregation of comparative sales figures for the period from 2 April 2000 it is not responsible for the aggregation of any data included in this Monitor relating to any period prior to 2 April 2000.

* The aggregation and weighting of data for the ‘online’ monitor has been performed by the BRC and KPMG for periods starting 25 November 2012 and equivalent prior year periods. Prior to that date, the online figures in this monitor refer to the unweighted Non-Food non store indicator, as published in the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor until July 2013.

The commentary from the BRC is intended to be of general interest to readers but is not advice or a recommendation and should not be relied upon without first taking professional advice. Anyone choosing to rely on it does so at his or her own risk. To the fullest extent permitted by law, KPMG will accept no responsibility or liability in connection with its sponsorship of the Monitor and its aggregation work to any party other than the BRC.

© Copyright British Retail Consortium and KPMG


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The April 2014 Monitor, covering the four weeks 6 April – 3 May, will be released at 00.01am Tuesday 13 May 2014.

The data is collected for the BRC by KPMG.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is the UK's leading retail trade association. It represents the full range of retailers, large and small, multiples and independents, food and non-food, online and store based.

Sponsored and Administered by

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with over 10,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.8 billion in the year ended September 2012. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in more than 156 countries and have more than 152,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. KPMG International provides no client services.

Detailed weekly data by category is available to retailers who contribute to the monitor:

If you would like to participate in the Retail Sales Monitor, please contact:

Anne Alexandre:

T: 0207 854 8960


KPMG Press Office: +44 (0) 207 694 8773

This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.

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