January retail sales fall

In January, UK retail sales decreased by 0.6 % on a like-for-like basis from January 2016, when they had increased 2.6% from the preceding year.

On a total basis, sales rose 0.1% in January, against a 3.3% increase in January 2016. This is well below the three-month average of 1.1% and the 12-month average of 0.9%.

Over the three-months to January, food sales increased 0.6% on a like-for-like basis and 2.0% on a total basis, clearly ahead of the 12-month total average growth of 1.0%. This is the second consecutive three-month average total growth of 2.0% or above.

Over the three-months to January, non-food retail sales in the UK rose 0.2% on a like-for-like basis and 0.3% on a total basis. This is below the 12-month total average growth of 0.8%, which is the lowest since July 2012.

Over the three-months to January, online sales grew 8.6% while in-store sales declined 2.2% on a total basis and 2.4% on a like-for-like basis.

BRC have also found garden/DIY prices fell in January.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "After a strong end to the Christmas trading, year on year sales growth ground to a halt, compensated only by stronger furniture sales and a boost for some retailers from Chinese New Year. While this may appear disappointing overall, retailers were up against a strong January last year to try and deliver a repeat performance and many reported an increase in the number of returns received in January.

"Looking across the last three months, we’ve seen the slowest growth of the festive period since 2009. Closer inspection reveals that this was driven by slowing sales in non-food sectors.

"These figures suggest that 'caution' was top of new year shopping lists and the uptick in credit card lending at the end of the last year may be short lived. With the signs pointing to upward pressures on shop prices given rising import costs, all eyes will be on the impact of inflation on consumer spending.

"That said, retailers are a resilient and innovative bunch. They have become increasingly adept at responding to the challenging environment, and as a result the industry has been a key driver of recent UK productivity growth."

KPMG UK retail head Paul Martin said: "Performance in January is likely to have left retailers feeling a little deflated, particularly following the strong top-line sales growth reported by many over the Christmas period. Compared to last year, retail sales were down 0.6% on a like-for-like basis this January – somewhat mirroring the sense of back-to-work sluggishness many feel at the start of the new year. 

"As is historically the case in January, furniture sales experienced strong performance, with the new year perhaps prompting shoppers to consider new look décor.

"Food and drink sales remained in the black, much to the relief of grocers. However, with New Year resolutions rejigging the shopping list, healthier items are likely to have been the focus.  

"With consumer price inflation beginning to kick-in alongside retailers’ costs also rising, the sector will need to continue to examine its cost-base as this will be a vital element of success in 2017."

  • Online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 8.0% in January versus a year earlier, when they had increased by 14.9%. This is below the 3-month average of 8.6% and the 12-month average of 9.5%. This is the first non-double-digit 12-month average since our monitor started in December 2012
  • Over the 3 months to January, Online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 8.6% year-on-year. Over the same period, Total Non-Food sales in the UK grew 0.3%.
  • In January 2017, Online sales represented 22.9% of total Non-Food sales in the UK, against 21.6% in January 2016. On a 3-month basis, penetration rate was 24.9%, representing £1 spent Online in every £4 of Non-Food sales.

  • Book now for the Garden Retail Summit 2017 - the leading independent knowledge and networking event for executives. Taking place in London on 23rd February, this year's event will focus on growth, and include the opportunities and challenges of 'brexit', learnings from the latest garden centre developments - and will be opened with a keynote address from John Cleland, CEO, Dobbies.  For more details and tickets go to: www.gardenretailawards.com/summit

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