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Published on March 8th, 2017 | by The GC Team

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First non-food quarterly sales decline since 2011

Figures released by the BRC and KPMG show quarterly non-food retail sales in the UK declined 0.4% on a like-for-like basis to February 2017 and 0.2% on a total basis, bringing about the first 3-month decline since November 2011 and taking the 12-month total average growth to 0.6%, the lowest since May 2012.

In February, overall sales fell by 0.4% on a like-for-like basis on the same month last year. Growth was subdued by a continuation of the slowdown in non-food sales, which was marginally offset by slightly stronger growth in food sales.

While there was a degree of negative distortion created by the later timing of Mother’s Day this year, which meant that some categories didn’t benefit from the spend on gift purchases as they did last year, the persistent weak sales performance of several non-food categories points to an undeniable trend of cautious spending on non-essential items, according to the BRC.

Chief Executive Helen Dickinson warned that tougher times are expected ahead. “The impact of inflation on consumer spending will add further intensity to an already fiercely competitive environment in which the ability to adapt and innovate will be key to survival,” she said.

The 3-month trend to February showed online sales of non-food products again outpacing in-store sales. Online grew 7.7%, while in-store declined 2.4% on a total basis and 2.6% on a like-for-like basis.

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