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BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor: Stretching sales in wait for the Spring

Stretching sales in wait for the Spring

Covering the four weeks 28 January – 24 February 2018

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  • In February, UK retail sales increased by 0.6% on a like-for-like basis from February 2017, when they had decreased 0.4% from the preceding year.
  • On a total basis, sales rose 1.6% in February, against a growth of 0.4% in February 2017. This is roughly in line with the 3-month and 12-month averages of 1.5% and 1.7% respectively.
  • Over the three months to February, In-store sales of Non-Food items declined 2.4% on a Total basis and 3.3% on a Like-for-like basis. On a 12-month basis, the Total decline was 2.2%.
  • Over the three months to February, Food sales increased 2.8% on a like-for-like basis and 4.0% on a total basis. This is now in line with the 12-month Total average growth of 3.9%, the highest since October 2012.
  • Over the three-months to February, Non-Food retail sales in the UK decreased 1.1% on a like-for-like basis and 0.5% on a total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average decrease of 0.0%.
  • Online sales of Non-Food products grew 6.4% in February, against a growth of 8.0% in February 2017. This is below the 3-month and 12-month averages of 6.5% and 7.7% respectively. Online penetration rate increased from 20.5% in February 2017 to 21.1% in February 2018.

Paul Martin, Head of Retail, KPMG said: 

“Retailers experiencing any growth in this environment will be counting themselves lucky. Indeed, total growth of 1.6 per cent in February is quite an achievement in such testing times. Softening consumer demand, rising costs for retailers and of course the ongoing structural changes within the industry, are creating the perfect storm which is uprooting the weakest players.

“On the high street, it was grocery sales that continued to pull it out of the bag. Meanwhile, Shrove Tuesday may have resulted in an uptick in cooking accessory sales, but performance in non-food in general was once again disappointing.

“Online retail appeared to have fared better – with growth across all categories – but the latest figures reinforce an underlying trend of a slow-down in growth online, which prompts concern.

“The retail shakeout will gather further momentum in the coming months, and retailers with large physical store estates are particularly under pressure. Moreover, the cost of one of the coldest winters on record has yet to be factored in. It’s not all doom and gloom though, a number of retailers are bucking the overall trend by focussing on a differentiated proposition whilst remaining relevant to the customer.”

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium said: 

“The headwinds to retail spending continued to blow strong in February. Inflation is still eating into shoppers’ budgets, pushing them to spend a greater share of their income on essentials and leaving less left over to buy discretionary, predominantly non-food, retail items. At the same time, weak growth in household earnings is keeping overall sales low.

“There’s little sign that consumer confidence, rather than financial reality, has much to do with the current weakness in spending. Furniture, often considered the bell weather of consumer confidence, actually saw sales improve in February as shoppers took advantage of credit facilities offered by retailers. The fact is that consumers want to spend, they just don’t have the resources to do so.

“With the upward pressure on prices from the fall in the pound now starting to subside we expect to see some loosening of the squeeze on spending on non-essentials, but it’s likely to come slowly. And so are anticipated increases in wage growth. Crucial for consumers and retailers over the coming months will be a successful outcome to trade negotiations, ensuring that amidst the current difficulties, they won’t be facing further increases in costs from new tariffs on the everyday goods we import from the EU.”

Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive, IGD said: 

“February was another steady month for food and grocery sales and included the usual boost from Valentine’s Day. From our ShopperVista tracking, 35 per cent of shoppers say they spend more on food and drink during celebratory occasions such as this.

“The next big event is Easter and since warm conditions promote higher food and drink sales over that holiday weekend, retailers will be hoping for a transformation in the weather during March.”

                                                                    -ENDS-

Notes to editors:

For Media Enquiries:

Simon Wilson PR Assistant Manager, KPMG
T: +44 (0) 207 311 6651
M: +44 (0)7785 373 397
E: simon.wilson@kpmg.co.uk

Media Relations Officer, BRC
T: +44 (0) 207 854 8924
E: media@brc.org.uk


Alexandra Crisp
Senior Communications Officer, IGD
T: +44 (0) 1923 857141
M: +44 (0) 7590 183 295
E: Alexandra.Crisp@igd.com

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 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.

About KPMG in the UK

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 14,500 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.2 billion in the year ended 30 September 2017. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 152 countries and has 189,000 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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