BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor May 2015 - food sales stabilise in May but non-food slows

BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor May 2015

Furniture was the top performing category and achieved it best growth since July, barring Easter distortions.

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  • UK retail sales were flat on a like-for-like basis from May 2014, when they had increased 0.5% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 1.1%, against a 2.0% rise in May 2014 and behind the 3-month and 12-month averages of 1.8% and 1.4% respectively. Adjusted for the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index deflation, total growth was 3.0%.
  • Furniture was the top performing category and achieved it best growth since July, barring Easter distortions. The Clothing and Footwear categories were amongst the worst performing, reporting their deepest declines since September.
  • Total Food sales grew 0.5% over the 3 months to May, ahead of their 0.5% decline over the last 12 months. Total Non-Food sales grew 2.8% over the same period, in line with its 12-month average growth, which for the first time since December, fell below the 3% mark.
  • Online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 9.9% in May versus a year earlier, when they had grown 17.0%. The Non-Food online penetration rate was 17.4%, up from 16.2% in May 2014.

Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "May witnessed a slow-down in sales growth, below the three-month and twelve-month average. This was mainly due to fashion sales, which experienced a decline compared with the same month last year, where we saw record demand.

"Nevertheless, May also had some positive developments. Amongst all categories, furniture performed strongest, an indication of continuing consumer confidence. There was also good news on food: after six months of marginal growth year-on-year, we are now starting to see a stabilisation in food sales despite the highly competitive market environment.  "Interestingly, May sales also reflected the growing consumer interest in fitness and healthier lifestyles."

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "With Easter distortions behind us, May’s retail sales figures were disappointingly flat.

"The slight improvement in the three-month average food sales reflect the grocer’s relentless grind for growth and encouragement can be drawn from that. However, as highlighted by the decline on a like-for-like basis, this recovery continues in the eye of a price deflation storm which continues to benefit the consumer.

"Buoyed by a conclusive result in May’s General Election, the housing market picked up leading to stand out performances for furniture and homeware sales. As economists predict another housing boom for the second half of 2015, these trends could be set to continue.

"Elsewhere, footwear and fashion sales wilted against strong performances last year as consumers put off the summer wardrobe refresh as they waited for the unseasonably cool May weather to improve. Many retailers stretched out summer sales events and deepened discounts in order to try and entice consumers through the door.

"Looking ahead, June may be a tough month of comparables for some with the start of the 2014 World Cup in June last year boosting sales in certain areas. However, with consumer confidence nearing pre-crisis positivity, retailers will be hoping that the improving job market, low inflation rates along with a dollop of summer sunshine will provide a welcome boost."

Food & Drink sector performance – Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive, IGD, said: "Although the May food sales figures were only a slight improvement on last year there are some positive signs for food companies. After a prolonged period of food and drink deflation, any growth is a solid achievement, especially given the wet and cool weather in May.

"If OBR expectations of slowly returning inflation are correct, this should give a modest boost to sales over the medium term and with a steady rise in population, our latest market forecasts predict 13 per cent sales growth for the sector between now and 2020."

- ENDS -


Notes to Editors:

The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor measures changes in the actual value (including VAT) of 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 sales for the current period and the equivalent period a year ago. These figures are reported both in total and on a ‘like-for-like’ basis.

Total sales growth is the percentage change in the value of all sales compared to the same period a year earlier. The total sales measure is used to assess market level trends in retail sales. It is a guide to the growth of the whole retail industry, or how much consumers in total are spending in retail – retail spending represents approximately one-third of consumer spending. It is this measure that is often used by economists. Many retailers include distance sales as a component of total sales.

'Like-for-like' sales growth (LFL) is the percentage change in the value of comparable sales compared to the same period a year earlier. It excludes any spending in stores that opened or closed in the intervening year, thus stripping out the effect on sales of changes in floorspace. Many retailers include distance sales as a component of like-for-like comparable sales.

The like-for-like measure is often used by retailers, the city and analysts to assess the performance of individual companies, retail sectors and the industry overall, without the distorting effect of changes in floorspace.

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 these non-store channels. It should be noted that online sales are still a small proportion of total UK retail sales. Estimates based on ONS figures show about 10 per cent of total UK retail sales (food and non-food) are achieved via the internet.

The responses provided by retailers within each sales category are weighted* (based on ONS weightings) to reflect the contribution of each category to total retail sales, thus making it representative of UK retail sales as a whole. 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.

As well as receiving sales value direct from the retailers in the scheme the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor also receives food and drink sales value data from the IGD's Market Track Scheme.

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 of data for the weighted ‘online’ figures 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 KPMG 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 (2014). The contents of this report and those of all ancillary documents and preparatory materials are the sole property of BRC and KPMG and are not to be copied, modified, published, distributed or commercially exploited other than with the express permission of BRC or for the purposes of journalistic comment and review. All rights reserved.


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The June 2015 Monitor, covering the five weeks 31 May – 4 July, will be released at 00.01am Tuesday 14 July 2015.

The data is collected and collated 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.


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KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 12,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.9 billion in the year ended September 2014. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 162,000 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. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

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IGD makes a difference by providing international market intelligence, supply chain best practice and consumer insight to the food and grocery industry worldwide. We work with consumers, companies and individuals across the chain to provide authoritative information, insight, thought leadership and leading edge best practice to help companies grow their business and develop their people.

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

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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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