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Published on April 11th, 2017 | by The GC Team

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Non-food retail growth at lowest for “nearly six years”

In March, UK retail sales decreased by 1.0% on a like-for-like basis from March 2016, when they had decreased 0.7% from the preceding year, according to the British Retail Consortium-KPG Sales Monitor. On a total basis, sales fell 0.2% in March, against flat growth in March 2016. This remains below the 3-month average of 0.1% and the 12-month average of 0.8%, but is negatively distorted by the timing of Easter.

Over the three months to March, non-food retail sales in the UK declined 1.1% on a like-for-like basis and 0.8% on a total basis. This is the slowest 3-month Total average growth since May 2011, and drags the 12-month Total average growth down to 0.3%, the lowest since April 2012.

Over the same period, online sales of non-food products grew 7.4% while in-store sales declined 3.0% on a total basis and 3.4% on a like-for-like basis.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said: “First impressions of March’s sales figures are underwhelming, with the first decline since August last year. That said, the distortion which results from the timing of Easter always makes Spring a tricky period to assess, and the later timing of the holiday this year certainly detracted from last month’s performance. Looking at the bigger picture though, the slowdown in non-food growth persists and it now stands at its lowest three-month average for nearly six years.”

Paul Martin, KPMG’s UK head of retail, added: “Retailers will be hoping Easter boosts retail sales in April, whether it’s shoppers making the most of the holiday or those choosing to spruce up their homes. The new tax year marks further pressure on margins in the form of the apprenticeship levy and business rate changes, therefore tighter cost management and a focus on efficiency is more important than ever.”

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