- UK retail sales rose by 2.6% on a like-for-like basis from January 2015, when they had increased 0.2% from the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 3.3%, against a 1.6% rise in January 2015. This is the best growth since September, firmly ahead of the 3-month average of 1.6% and the 12-month average of 1.9%.
- Adjusted for the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index deflation, total growth was 5.1%.
- All product categories contributed to the growth, apart from Food, which turned slightly negative but the 3-month and 12-month averages for Food stayed unchanged from last month. Furniture topped the growth rankings table, a particularly strong achievement in the most important month of the year for the category.
- Online sales of Non-Food products grew 14.9% in January versus a year earlier, when they had grown 11.7%. The Non-Food online penetration rate was 21.5%, up 1.4 percentage points from January 2015.
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium, said: “Following on from a somewhat disappointing Christmas period for retailers, the new year kicked off to a strong start, with 3.3 per cent growth across all product categories and 2.6 per cent growth on like-for-like sales. This was the best performance for retailers since September and ahead of the three and twelve month averages.
“January’s performance was driven by big-ticket items, in particular furniture, which is encouraging in the largest month of the year for the category. However, the performance in clothing and footwear was driven by the New Year sales. After seeing a slight recovery in December, food sales were once again slightly down in January, while the mildly positive longer term trends were unchanged.
“Retailers will welcome the positive start to what will be a momentous year for the industry. Next month the Treasury will report back on its long awaited review of the business rates system. This is the moment for the government to rebalance this tax away from property intensive industries in order to ensure that the introduction of the living wage does not have unintended consequences on our local communities and jobs .”
David McCorquodale, UK Head of Retail, KPMG, said
: “Fashion and the home drove retail sales to beat the January blues, up 2.6 per cent in the month on a like-for-like basis. After a slow start to the Autumn/Winter season, fashion and footwear sales soared in the early half of the month as promotional pricing caught the eye.
“Furniture and home accessories continued their strong run as the improving property market enjoys its makeover. Following a fairly admirable Christmas, January was also a reasonable month for the grocers with total food and drink sales remaining in the black, just, for the three months November to January.
“Heading into February, retailers will be turning attention to the next big promotional event in the calendar, Valentine’s Day and hoping to take a decent share of consumer spend as they’ll be facing stiff competition from both the experiential and leisure sectors.”
Food & Drink sector performance – Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive, IGD, said: “After encouraging Christmas trading, food and grocery sales settled back into the pattern seen last autumn of a slight year on year decline. Dry January has been gaining ground as a concept and sales of beers, wines and spirits were notably down on the same period last year.
“Looking ahead, competition is set to intensify even further as shoppers continue the trend for shopping little and often. Three out of ten (31 per cent) say they are shopping more frequently for groceries than three years ago and over a third (36 per cent) say that if their incomes rise this year they will shop even more frequently.”
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 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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