A New Year boost for retail

“Retailers will be relieved that we started the year without further lockdowns as consumer demand continued strongly on the high street, with sales up 11.9 per cent on last year.” Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, was responding to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor…

It showed that, as a result of the UK being in lockdown with retail stores closed in January 2021, like-for-like retail sales increased by 8.1 per cent this January. In addition, the three months to the end of last month saw non-food retail sales increase Y-o-Y by 11.1 per cent on a total basis and 6.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

In the same period, in-store sales of non-food items increased by an impressive 67.6 per cent; however, this is compared against the lockdown month in 2021. When compared to 2020, before the pandemic hit, this figure declined by 7.5 per cent.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said it is encouraging to see such strong sales in January, even once inflation has been accounted for.

“Consumers prioritised home purchases, boosting the sale of household appliances, electronics and homeware.”

It appears the household appliances sector needed this boost. Last month, it was one of the worst performing sectors; similarly in December as well, but this is not surprising when consumers are focused on Christmas and appliances may not be at the top of everyone’s wish list.

This is compared against January 2021, when this category was very buoyant and sales were high.

Mr Martin added: “We could see a challenging few months ahead if wider macroeconomic conditions start to squeeze household incomes to the point that they start cutting back on retail spending. Retailers will need to take tough decisions on whether and how to pass on the increase costs to consumers facing their own financial challenges.”