Retail sales growth slows in January as chill pushes shoppers online

Retail sales growth “ground to a halt” in January after strong Christmas trading, according to the latest figures from the BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor.

UK retail sales dipped by 0.6% on a like-for-like basis in January this year, and non-food retail sales over the three months to January rose 0.2% on a like-for-like basis.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “While this may appear disappointing overall, retailers were up against a strong January last year to try and deliver a repeat performance and many reported an increase in the number of returns received in January.”

However, it was a different story online. Online sales of non-food products grew by 8% in January, although this was still down on the 14.9% growth seen in January 2016. Over the three months to January 2017, online sales of non-food products grew 8.6% year on year. Online sales made up 22.9% of total non-food sales in the UK, up slightly from 21.6% in January last year.

Paul Martin, KPMG UK head of retail, added: “Unlike the chilly high street, online retail sales continued to grow in January, with non-food online sales up 8% compared to last year. The month’s cold snap is likely to have encouraged high street hibernation, with shoppers preferring to browse from the comfort of their own homes.

“Indeed, consumer focus really did turn indoors during the month, with sales of furniture and other household items performing particularly well. Footwear sales on the other hand continued to struggle and infrequently made it to e-checkouts.”

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