BRC – KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor March 2017 | KPMG | UK
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BRC – KPMG ONLINE RETAIL SALES MONITOR MARCH 2017: Mums treated with online gifts in March

BRC – KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor March 2017

Despite most online sales growth stagnating during March, overall they still brought in better growth numbers than those on the high street. The health and beauty section, particularly, under the influence of Mother's Day, achieved the strongest sales growth among all the online categories, the March BRC – KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor reports.


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Covering the five weeks 26 February – 1 April 2017


  • Online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 6.6% in March versus a year earlier, when they had increased by 9.5%. This is the lowest growth since August, below the 3-month and 12-month averages of 7.4% and 9.0% respectively but is negatively distorted by the timing of Easter.
  • Over the 3 months to March, Online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 7.4% year-on-year, the lowest since May 2013. Over the same period, Total Non-Food sales in the UK fell by 0.8%, the second consecutive month of 3-month average decline.      
  • In March 2017, Online sales represented 22.0% of total Non-Food sales in the UK, against 20.9% in March 2016. On a 3-month basis, penetration rate was 22.3%.       
  • Over the 3 months to March, Online sales contributed 1.7 percentage points to the year-on-year growth of Total Non-Food sales. In contrast, In-Store sales made a negative 3-month contribution of 2.5 percentage points. In March, Online sales contributed 1.2 percentage points to Non-Food growth.
  • Over the 3 months to March, In-Store sales fell, posting declines of 3.0% on a total basis and 3.4% on a like-for-like basis. For the month of March, In-Store sales showed a decline, exaggerated by the timing of Easter.


Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium

“Online non-food sales growth in March was dampened by the later timing of Easter this year. Those products historically popular with shoppers over the long weekend, notably larger homeware items, took a hit but will feel the benefit during April instead. Health and beauty products on the other hand, achieved the strongest sales growth of all categories thanks to gift purchases for Mother’s Day, while gaming and electricals continue to be online bestsellers as customers are enticed with new product launches." 

“Retailers continue to innovate and invest in their digital offers to attract customers amidst the intense competition. Mobile optimisationhas been the focus for many and some are already reaping the benefits of higher conversion rates as customers enjoy speedier browsing activity. Meanwhile, for fashion retailers, new free delivery initiatives have successfully driven increased loyalty from those customers who sign up.”


Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail, KPMG

“Online retail sales in March fared better than the high street, with non-food sales up 6.6 per cent in the month. That said, we haven’t seen growth this low since August last year and the timing of Easter is likely to have had an impact. Demand in UK retail is also showing signs of slowing down more broadly."

“Most categories did note growth in the month however, with health and beauty performing particularly well. It is likely Mother’s Day provided a helping hand, and with temperatures being milder than usual for the month, shoppers were also shrugging off the shackles of winter. Fashion sales also proved especially popular, with spring collections seemingly striking the right chord with shoppers." 

“The later timing of Easter is likely to have contributed to the sluggish furniture and homeware sales in the month.  Interest in these categories will probably pick-up in the coming month, with the holiday providing an opportunity for home improvements."

“It remains to be seen if the slowdown in online sales is just a temporary blip or a more significant occurrence.”




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

The responses provided by retailers within each sales category are weighted (based on weightings derived from the ONS Family Spending survey) 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 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. 


For media enquiries:

Zoe Maddison
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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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