UK retail sales increase with the promise of spring

UK retailers were able to transcend the traditional deceleration of sales in February as retail sales increased on a like-for-like basis from February 2014 0.2 percent compared to the 1 percent dip last year according to the latest data from the BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor. Overall, total retail sales grew 1.7 percent last month year-on-year, up from the 0.7 percent increase in 2014.

"After the bustle of Christmas and the excitement of the January sales, February is usually a quiet month for retailers. So it’s heartening to see that retail sales continued to rise this month by close to 2 percent," commented Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium (BRC). Online retail sales increased by 8.3 percent year-on-year, a dip from the 14.3 percent boost witnessed in 2014, although UK consumers continued to spend more online on non-food items such as fashion and footwear than in-store.

Apparel was the main contributor to the in-store growth of retail sales during February, although the cold weather snap led to a number of retailers holding mid-season discount events earlier in 2015 than in 2014. "There was some specific excitement around swimwear, sandals and other ‘holiday’ items as consumers turned their mind to their getaways. Valentine’s Day also drove good sales of beauty products, jewellery and food related gifts," added Dickinson.

"Fundamentally though, sales are up while prices fall which means that retailers are continuing to work hard to provide original products that excite customers at the right price. So far, 2015 has been positive for both retailers and consumers and it shows no signs yet of changing course."

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, added: "Activity on the high street has settled into a monotonous equilibrium. February’s figures are also against very weak comparables, when bad weather caused sales to stall last year. However, some sectors did see sales growth. Clothing also received a boost, aided by the arrival of new collections in store...Retailers will be hoping that the arrival of spring can drive a more sustained upswing in spending as warmer temperatures encourage shoppers to splurge on new season outfits."


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