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Published on March 11th, 2014 | by The GC Team

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Online sales drive February’s non-food growth

UK retail sales slowed considerably in February after recording the highest growth (5.4%) since March 2010 in January this year.

The British Retail Consortium today reported sales down 1.0% on a like-for-like basis from February 2013, when they had increased 2.7% on the prior year.

On a total basis the figures rose 0.7%, against a 4.4% increase in the same month last year.

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail at KPMG, said the result “serves as a reminder that recovery is far from certain.”

The 3-month average total growth was 2.8%, in line with the 12-month trend, which now stands at 2.7%.

Online sales of non-food products grew 14.3% in February compared to the previous year, with the penetration rate reaching 17.5%.

“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,” said McCorquodale.

“Online played a crucial role this month, and without internet sales, non-food sales would have fallen into negative territory.”

Looking at the overall picture, furniture and home accessories were again the best performing categories, illustrating the impact of the continued recovery in the housing market on the wider economy. Food sales, on the other hand, remained relatively flat.

Helen Dickinson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium, said February’s 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.

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