BRC KPMG Retail Sales Monitor February 2016

BRC KPMG Retail Sales Monitor February 2016

February slowdown offsets January spurt.

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BRC Retail Sales Monitor Feb 2016
  • UK retail sales rose by 0.1% on a like-for-like basis from February 2015, when they had increased 0.2% from the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 1.1%, against a 1.7% rise in February 2015. After January’s acceleration, February’s slowdown puts the three-month average growth in line with the 12-month average at 1.8%.
  • Adjusted for the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index deflation of 2.0%, total growth was 3.1% in February against 3.7% and 3.6% for the 3-month and 12-month averages respectively.
  • February growth was mostly driven by Furniture and Home Accessories again while Food, Clothing and Footwear experienced declines on a like-for-like basis.
  • Online sales of Non-Food products grew 10.7% in February versus a year earlier, when they had grown 8.3%. The Non-Food online penetration rate remained above 20% at 20.4%, 1.5 percentage points above February 2015.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium, said: “After a strong start to the year, February’s growth slowed to 1.1 per cent and 0.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis. This fell below the three-month and the twelve-month total averages, both in line at 1.8 per cent.

“February’s slowdown was noticeable across all product categories bar Stationery and Health & Beauty, as Valentine’s Day provided a welcome growth spurt for those retailers well prepared for the occasion. The fashion categories struggled while some growth was noted in books and vision. Competition remained strong in the grocery sector, while consumers proved willing to spend money on large ticket items, namely furniture, driving the month’s performance.

“This slow growth reflects the increasing pressure the industry is under, as highlighted in our recent Retail 2020 report. With the Budget due this month, we encourage the Government to address the cumulative burden that retailers face; enabling growth and protecting jobs and communities.”

David McCorquodale, UK Head of Retail, KPMG, said: “The home and the heart drove February’s sales growth as home improvement and Valentine’s Day campaigns brought their rewards. Furniture was once again the strongest category, helped by a buoyant housing market and promotional activity by retailers in the sector. Jewellers also saw sales sparkle on a romantic revival.

“Stationers performed well during this period, with sales of cards and wrapping paper boosting profits. Unfortunately the “Valentine’s effect” did not rub off on food and drink sales, which declined for the second month of the year.

“With the implementation of the National Living Wage only weeks away, all the focus is on promotional activity to drive sales and on productivity to protect margins. With fashion design choices made and an early Easter this year, clothing retailers will be hoping for March sunshine to launch the new season’s wares.”

Food & Drink sector performance – Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive, IGD, said: “The deflationary environment for food and groceries continues to deliver a cost of living boost for shoppers while constraining total sector sales. Previously seen as a short lived phenomenon, a majority (52 per cent) of shoppers now tell us they expect food prices to remain the same or fall further over the next 12 months. Various retailers are also simplifying their price structures, increasingly putting an emphasis on everyday low prices rather than promotions. Consequently, 70 per cent of food shoppers now say it’s easy to compare prices compared with 56 per cent in 2012.”


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.  

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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