January’s “surprise” year on year retail sales rise were a “discount driven blip” according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which released figures that show a February slump this morning (March 10).
Retail sales overall fell by 1.8% compared to last February. Non-food sales fell 5.3% overall on a like-for-like basis, with every non-food sector losing sales apart from children’s clothes. So-called “big-ticket” items and homeware goods were particularly hard hit.
Food and drink showed slower growth despite increasing sales, which were boosted by snow-induced stockpiling and Valentine at-home diners.
KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson predicts more retail sector job losses and cost-cutting measures are likely in the short-term.
However, some analysts have delivered a more upbeat assessment of the figures. Numis retail analyst Nick Coulter says: “Notwithstanding snow and a late Mothers Day….. February was not as bad as we feared or as weak as portrayed by the BRC commentary, in our opinion.”
He adds that although non-food fell, it didn’t “plumb the depths of 7.4%-7.9% seen at the end of last year”.