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Industry News Health of UK retail steadies in quarter two, says Retail Think Tank

Published on April 21st, 2017 | by The GC Team


UK retail sales record quarterly decline

UK retail sales recorded their first quarterly decline in four years as the prices of goods continued to rise.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the three months to March showed a volume decrease of 1.4%, while sales in March fell by 1.8% compared with February 2017.

Declines were seen across the four main store types.

ONS Senior Statistician Kate Davies said: “This is the first time we’ve seen a quarterly decline since 2013, and it seems to be a consequence of price increases across a whole range of sectors.”

Average store prices (including fuel) increased by 3.3% on the year, the highest growth since March 2012. The largest contribution came from petrol stations, where year-on-year average prices rose by 16.4%.

Online sales increased year-on-year by 19.5% and by 0.5% on the month, accounting for approximately 15.5% of all retail spending.

Hugh Fletcher, Global Head of Consultancy and Innovation at e-commerce consultancy Salmon, said: “UK retailers face the tricky challenge of growing the business and encouraging shoppers to spend money, all the while mitigating the impact of inflation and keeping costs low. With online sales increasing year-on-year by 19.5%, retailers can no longer shun the truth that shoppers crave a more immediate, reliable and digitally driven experience.”

Another study released today showed card spending on the internet increased by a more than a quarter in two years. Figures from The UK Cards Association showed spending totalling £154 billion in the UK in 2016, averaging £422 million a day – a rise of 28% since 2014, when online spending amounted to £120 billion.

“The latter figures clearly show that shopping trends are shifting and UK consumers are increasingly being turned off the high street in favour of online platforms such as Deliveroo and Amazon which offer the immediacy now required,” commented Salmon’s Fletcher.

“The rise of e-commerce has been synonymous with new shopping habits, particularly as shoppers gradually turn to the living room couch as a good enough replacement to purchase goods and services.

“As consumers shift online, retailers too must embrace the change in shopping habits and feed consumers’ desire for convenient online shopping or face the dark prospect of poor sales, profit slumps and sluggish growth.”


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