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February sees rebound in retail sales volumes

After a snowy January, retail sales volumes bounce back - increasing significantly over both the month and year.

Strong demand for tablets have helped retail sales increase by more than expected in February.

Excluding fuel, retail sales rebounded by 1.9% when compared to January, and by 3.3% on the year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The jump in both volume and amount spent follows subdued year-on-year retail sales growth rates since September 2012.

Strong sales at computer equipment retailers and department stores helped drive February's rise, and online also performed well, the ONS said.

Spending online accounted for 9.7% of all retail spending, excluding fuel, in February. The average weekly spend on the internet was £540m - an increase of over 10% when compared with February 2012.

It comes after a disappointing start to 2013, when sales plunged as a result of heavy snow across swathes of the UK.

Deloitte's UK head of retail, Ian Geddes, said February's figures were good news for the sector - but warned that caution should be exercised because New Year sales often continue into February.

He added: "The period measured does not include the last week of February when poor weather hit, so next month’s figures may be affected."

The data comes a day after Chancellor George Osborne unveiled his Budget - but Mr Geddes said it provided "little respite" for the troubled high street.

"Any retailer expecting consumers to have more money in their pockets as a result of this Budget may be disappointed," he said.

But he added that the reduction of the corporation tax rate would "significantly benefit" UK-based retailers, which represent some of the largest UK corporation tax payers.

The data comes as clothing retailers Next and Ted Baker reported full-year financial results.

Both companies said sales had increased in 2012, and joined a number of other companies - including Zara, Sports Direct and Asos - in reporting strong results despite the difficult economic conditions.

Source : Sky News

21 March 2013
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