Commenting on the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) retail sales figures for the month of March, Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, said:
“Retailers have clearly struggled to make headway in 2017, with the latest ONS data outlining the first quarterly decline in retail sales since 2013. Of course, the later Easter will have played a part in distorting performance, however the figures also point to the broader underlying issues that are facing the industry – including increased input costs.
“Prices at the petrol pumps and supermarket check-outs are certainly having an impact on shopper’s spending habits. In fact, the amount spent by consumers increased 5.1% compared to the same period last year, with rising inflation starting to influence prices. Meanwhile the quantity bought continues on a downward course, as it has since the beginning of the year.
“It is not all doom and gloom though, fashion retailers benefitted from a recent increase in sales – bucking the overall trend. It’s likely the milder weather will have prompted shoppers to peruse the new season’s collection, whilst e-Promotions also appear to have worked their magic. Online textile, clothing and footwear sales noted a whopping 28.1% boost compared to the same period last year.
“With a disappointing start to the year overall, it is critical that retailers succeed at turning the tide on performance in the coming months. Whether Easter proved a success or not remains to be seen. The focus now should be on improving margins through increased efficiency, whilst at the same time making the most of the bank holidays ahead.”
Notes to editor:
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