“Sluggish” retail sales in February

Year-on-year retail sales growth in February 2019 increased by four per cent, with growth in all main sectors, according to the latest figures from the ONS (Office for National Statistics).

The monthly growth rate in the quantity bought in February 2019 (covering the four-week period 27 January 2019 to 23 February 2019) increased by 0.4 per cent, and in the three months to February, sales increased by 0.7 per cent when compared with the previous three months, with strong growth in non-store retailing.

Online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell to 17.6 per cent in February this year, a drop January which was at 18.8 per cent.

This latest report from the ONS presents estimates of the quantity bought (volume) and amount spent (value) in the retail industry. Retail sales collects turnover data from retailers, which is money through the till before any deductions, including refunded items. This helps to provide an indicator towards consumer spending during this period.

Both the amount spent and the quantity bought in the retail industry showed strong growth of 4.3 per cent and four per cent respectively in February 2019 when compared with a year earlier. Non-food stores was the largest contributor towards the increase seen.

Rachel Lund, Head of Insight and Analytics at the British Retail Consortium, commented: “Retail sales were fairly sluggish in February. Non-Food sales were robust, offering some relief for those retailers.

 “With Business Rates due to rise once again on 1 April, retailers will see their already tight margins squeezed further. Unless Government takes action to reform the broken business rates system we may see a repeat of 2018, where many household names disappeared from our high streets.”