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BRC-KPMG: Storm Clouds Hanging Over Retail

Rain SHopper Shopping - Jason Batterham Shutterstock 671551474.jpg

The BRC has reported on retail sales during the four weeks between 2nd and 29th February 2020.

  • On a Total basis, sales increased by 0.1% in February, against an increase of 3.2% in February 2019*. This is above the 12-month average decline of 0.2%.
  • UK retail sales decreased 0.4% on a Like-for-like basis from February 2019, when they had increased 2.6% from the preceding year*.
  • Over the three months to February, In-store sales of Non-Food items declined 1.8% on a Total and 1.9% on a Like-for-like basis. This is better than the 12-month Total average decline of 3.1% but positively distorted by the inclusion of Black Friday in December.
  • Over the three months to February, Food sales increased 0.3% on a Like-for-like basis and 1.0% on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 1.2%.
  • Over the three-months to February, Non-Food retail sales in the UK increased by 0.6% on a like-for-like and 0.7% on a Total basis. This is above the 12-month Total average decline of 1.4% but positively distorted by the inclusion of Black Friday in December. For the month of February, Non-Food was in decline year-on-year.
  • Online Non-Food sales increased by 3.6% in February, against a growth of 5.4% in February 2019*. This is above the 12-month average of 2.9%.
  • Non-Food Online penetration rate increased from 29.1% in February 2019 to 31.1%.

* Note 2020 is a 53-week year in the ONS calendar: as a result of the extra week in January 2020, the comparable 2019 performances cited here may differ from those published last year, due to the one-week shift in the comparison.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium
“Clouds continued to hang over the retail industry in February, as storm Ciara, Dennis and Jorge took their toll on retail sales, particularly in fashion. Despite many indicators suggesting a rise in confidence among UK shoppers in recent months, this has failed to translate into higher retail sales. However, the end of the month saw a slight rise in spending on food and healthcare as a result of concerns around coronavirus. 
 
“Retailers are working hard to reduce their environmental impact, keep supply chains working smoothly and investing in new technologies. However, they are hindered by government policies, such as sky high business rates, which limit investment. In tomorrow’s Budget we hope the Government will take the opportunity to relieve the business rates burden bearing down on the shoulders of the industry. Scrapping downwards phasing of transitional relief, which has forced retailers to subsidise other industries by almost £550m over the last three years, would allow more money to be invested back into people, property and technology all over the UK.”

Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail | KPMG
“Returning consumer confidence has done little to benefit retailers, with February’s sales growth down 0.4% on a like-for-like basis. The highly anticipated ‘Boris Bounce’ has clearly struggled to materialise in the embroiled retail sector, and looking ahead Covid-19 isn’t likely to help matters. 

“Subdued grocery has shown a slight recovery, although the edging up of prices will have contributed to that growth. In the short-term, any potential supply chain disruption caused by Covid-19 will be felt acutely by grocers, so developments will have to be watched closely.

“February saw the UK get hit by one storm after another, so it’s unsurprising that online fared fractionally better than the high street. Generally though, demand for non-food items remains woefully low.

“The coming weeks will be of key importance to the sector. Retailers will be hoping that the Chancellor can provide stability and certainty after prolonged volatility and uncertainty. Business rates will be front of mind for many, but it remains to be seen whether any form of relief will be offered. Even then, that relief could be too little too late for some of those struggling.” 

Food & Drink sector performance | Susan Barratt, CEO | IGD
“After a decidedly lacklustre start to 2020, food and grocery sales in February saw a clear uptick from January with an increase in like-for-like and total growth. Things like the timing of Valentine’s Day on a Friday certainly played a role in the middle of the month. Also, with increased attention on Coronavirus, it seems likely this may have had a modest impact over the last week in particular with shoppers buying extra food and grocery items.

“On a positive note, 20% of food and grocery shoppers now say they will focus more on quality in the year ahead (vs 15% Feb’19) – this is the highest level since August’16. This is now higher than those who will focus more on saving money (19%).”

Source : BRC-KPMG

Image : Jason Batterham / Shutterstock.com 671551474

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10 March 2020

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