BRC - KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor: Online sales slow as Olympics steal shoppers' attention

BRC - KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor August 2016

“Online echoed the performance of total sales this month, with growth slowing to just 6.2 per cent, well below the 12-month average of 11.1 per cent. People’s attention on screens turned to watching the Olympics rather than browsing, resulting in the lowest growth for online non-food sales since March 2013.", says Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive at British Retail Consortium.

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Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium 

“Online as a proportion of total non-food retail sales remains above 20 per cent,  contributing positively to total non-food sales growth, while store sales registered a decline. Today’s figures are a reflection of a month of lower sales growth across the board as people focussed their energies on outdoor leisure activities rather than shopping. 

“The fact that online continues to be the key driver of sales growth is both testament to and a driver of innovation in the industry. Despite continuing uncertainty and swings in consumer confidence since the referendum retailers continue to invest in optimising their digital platforms, which have already become an integral part of the customer journey.” 

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail | KPMG 

“While online sales were a more positive affair than the high street overall, e-channels experienced the slowest growth so far this year with non-food online sales up just 6.2% in the month.  

“Health and beauty was the standout category as consumers stocked up on sun cream ready for exotic holidays abroad and Britain’s very own August scorcher. The warmer weather also encouraged parents to order outdoor toys online, helping to keep the kids out of mischief during the school summer break.   

“In contrast, women’s footwear experienced negative growth in the month with shoppers reluctant to consider new Autumn collections in the summer heat. No doubt the category will improve as the weather cools in the coming months.  

“With the summer holidays now coming to an end, ‘back to school’ marks the next opportunity for online retailers to grab the attention of shoppers.” 

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 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.

Media Enquiries:

British Retail Consortium

21 Dartmouth Street

London, SW1H 9BP

T: 020 7854 8900 


Zoe Maddison

T: 0207 854 8924 




15 Canada Square 

London, E14 5GL

T: 020 7311 1000 


Jessica Liebmann

T: 0207 311 3245

M: 07551 135 778


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 revenue of £1.96 billion in the year ended September 2015. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 174,000 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. 


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 


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