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BRC: Sales slow in February after bumpy January

Mar 12
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BRC: Sales slow in February after bumpy January

Sales figures from the retail industry for February show a sluggish pace of growth compared to previous months, suggesting the consumer-led recovery is still developing, according to a new report.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) - KPMG Sales Monitor for last month revealed that UK retail sales were down one per cent on a like-for-like basis from February 2013, compared to 2012 when they had increased 2.7 per cent.

Overall, sales were up 0.7 per cent compared to a 4.4 per cent increase in the same period last year. The three-month average total growth was 2.8 per cent, a figure in line with the 12-month trend - now at 2.7 per cent.

Home accessories was the top performing category, followed by furniture and flooring, which contributed the most to overall growth. Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew by 14.3 per cent last month, compared to the previous year, with the online penetration rate reaching 17.5 per cent.

Helen Dickinson, director-general of the BRC, said: "Once again, furniture and home accessories were the best performing categories. This further illustrates the impact of the continued recovery in the housing market on the wider economy. On the other hand, food sales continued to stay relatively flat.

"Overall, these figures reflect the considerable challenges still faced by consumers and retailers in the UK. It remains to be seen how the industry will fare over 2014."

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, added that February “saw a hiatus on the high street” as online sales increased sharply, compared to stalling sales in stores. 

He believes last month’s adverse weather conditions were partly to blame for this slump, but added that it also highlighted the importance of having a sophisticated online operation in place. 

The head of retail said that it wasn’t all doom and gloom as solid furniture and accessory sales were proof the recovering housing market was having a positive impact on the retail sector.

“Retailers need the government to deliver measures in the forthcoming Budget which will give shoppers more pounds in their pocket, but more importantly imbue them with the confidence to spend them," he concluded.

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