Retail sales slow in February says BRC

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But non food online sales benefit from 14.3% year-on-year increase.

The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show overall retail sales growth of 2.8% in the three months from December 2013 to February 2014, despite a difficult month of trading in February.

Year-on-year sales for February revealed a 1% decline in trade, following what was a bumper 3.9% increase in January, which helped to grow total retail sales by 1.7% for the year to date compared to 2013.

Non food sales continue to improve year-on-year, with a 4.7% increase in the three months from December 2013 to February 2014.

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Online sales also showed promise during the three month period and contributed significantly to non-food sales growth. According to KPMG, which helps to compile the figures for the BRC, online sales grew 14.3% in February 2014 compared to the February 2013.

Online sales, including mail order and phone transactions, are still only a small portion of the total UK retail sales. Roughly 10% of total UK retail sales for non food are achieved via the internet.

Director general of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said: “Our sales figures for February show a slower pace of growth in the retail industry than in previous months, underlining that the consumer-led recovery is still developing.

“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,” she added.

KPMG head of retail David McCorquodale commented: “February saw a hiatus on the high street, with online sales soaring while in store sales stalled. There’s no doubt inclement weather exacerbated this trend, but it certainly underscores the importance of having a sophisticated online operation.”

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