January retail sales growth soars to six-year high
Retail sales experienced their biggest increase in six years in January as the result of the general election and discounting encourages consumers to spend.
Sales in-store were up 5.7% last month, the biggest annual rise since January 2014. Non-store sales increased 18.8%, taking the overall marketing to growth of 7% (compared to 3.8% in January 2019).
There were gains across all three sectors – lifestyle, fashion and homeware – in January, the first time since January 2018 that they have all been positive. Lifestyle sales were up 8.5%, fashion 7.7% and homewares 5.4% on a like-for-like basis.
Online boosts audience for commercial radio
The number of people tuning in to listen to the radio online has boosted the audience for commercial radio, which increased its audience share by 0.5 percentage points to 46.6% in the final quarter of 2019.
Across radio (including the BBC), online listening numbers were up 33% year on year, meaning digital platforms now account for 58.5% of the radio audience. DAB is the largest online format with an audience share of 41%.
Commercial radio had 35.1 million weekly listeners in the quarter, with 68.1% listening on digital platforms. However, the total audience was down 1.2% year on year.
Overall, the audience for radio dropped by 0.5% year on year to 48.1 million. The BBC’s weekly audience dropped to 1.1% to 33.6 million.
Car sales fall amid weak consumer spending
The UK new car market declined 7.3% year on year in January as weak consumer and business confidence hit sales.
Registrations by private buyers were down 13.9%, while fleet registrations fell by 2.2%. Diesel demand fell for the 34th consecutive month, down 36% and the weakest performance since 2000. Petrol demand also declines by 9.5%.
However, alternatively-fuelled cars grew in popularity. Hybrid electric vehicles experienced a sales rise of 20.6%, while plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales were up 111.1%.
Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders
Half of Britons don’t trust companies’ environmental claims
More than half (54%) of consumers do not trust what companies tell them about their actions to tackle climate change. This despite companies making bolder sustainability commitments such as targeting net zero carbon emissions.
Fewer than one in five (17%) are confident companies are taking the necessary steps to tackle climate change, while 73% could not name a single company they consider to be good at dealing with climate change or providing sustainable options.
Nearly two-thirds of people (60%) want to make more sustainable choices but find it hard to know what to do. And 44% say they don’t have time to research how sustainable their purchases really are.
Source: Instinctif Partners
Health reasons prompt people to get involved in Veganuary
Health was the main reason for people getting involved in Veganuary, cited by 42% of participants. This was followed by environmental concerns, cited by 28%, and ethical reasons on 27%.
Despite growing interest, just 2% of the UK are vegan and 5% vegetarian, with take-up of Veganuary driven primarily by flexitarians. Nevertheless, sales of meat substitutes such as soya mince or vegetarian burgers increased 14% year on year in January. Sales of lentils were up 6%, lettuce 10% and aubergine 14%.
More than twice as many consumers bought an explicitly-labelled plant-based product from supermarkets’ own ranges in January compared to December. Supermarkets have tapped into the trend with the launch of product lines such as ‘Gro’ from The Co-op and ‘Plant based’ from Asda.