- UK retail sales values were up 2.7% on a like-for-like basis from February 2012, when they were down 0.3% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 4.4%, against a 2.3% rise in February 2012.
- Excluding distortions caused by the timing of Easter in previous years, total sales grew at the fastest rate since February 2010 (4.5%). Like-for-like sales growth was the fastest since December 2009.
- Online sales were up 10.9% over February 2012, when they had risen by 9.9%.
Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "After the disappointing figures that brought 2012 to a close, it’s reassuring that the sales momentum established during an encouraging January has built not faded. There are certainly highly-welcome signs here of gradual improvement and customers feeling a bit more positive. February saw growth across all parts of retailing, with big-ticket goods and items for the home recovering particularly well, possibly reflecting better conditions in the housing market.
"But it’s too soon to assume this represents the permanent turnaround we need.
"This month’s Budget gives the Government a great opportunity to act to secure real and lasting revival from what could be no more than a short-lived lift. Retail is central to generating the growth and jobs so critical to the UK’s economic recovery but weak consumer confidence is the real and present obstacle.
"Consumers need a Budget that leaves them with more money in their pockets and the confidence to spend it and retailers with the means to invest. I hope the Chancellor seizes the moment."
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "Whilst one shouldn’t read too much into one month’s figures, February’s data will provide a much needed fillip to retailers’ confidence levels. Against all expectations, retail sales rose this month to achieve the strongest underlying sales growth for three years. Relatively dry, if cold, weather and the occasional day of spring sunshine helped to lift clothing sales as well as drive footfall in the general direction of the department stores, with non-food and furnishing and flooring categories showing strong performances.
"This good overall growth has been achieved despite a sluggish set of numbers from the food and drink sector, where recent events may have caused consumers to change their buying habits within the meat sector.
"The forthcoming Budget will be a pivotal moment for the retail sector. If the proposed rise in business rates goes ahead then retailers will be placed under inexorable pressure. However, if the Chancellor chooses to freeze rates, then he could give the sector some much needed breathing space to tackle the significant pressures it is facing."
Food & Drink sector performance – Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive, IGD, said: "Given the food industry was under such intense scrutiny in February, the sector will be pleased that aggregate sales stood up so well.
"Although there was a lot of ‘switch buying’, such as a fall in frozen burger sales in favour of more ingredients to cook from scratch, the overall effect on food and drink sales was neutral.
"This is a good opportunity for British producers with more people becoming more interested in the origin of their food. Nearly eight in ten (78 per cent of) shoppers say it’s important whether or not their food comes from Britain, up from 55 per cent who said the same six years ago."
The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor measures changes in the actual value (including VAT) of retail sales, excluding automotive fuel. The Monitor measures the value of spending and hence does not adjust for price or VAT changes. If prices are rising, sales volumes will increase by less than sales values. In times of price deflation, sales volumes will increase by more than sales values.
Retailers report the value of their sales for the current period and the equivalent period a year ago. These figures are reported both in total and on a ‘like-for-like’ basis.
Total sales growth is the percentage change in the value of all sales compared to the same period a year earlier. The total sales measure is used to assess market level trends in retail sales. It is a guide to the growth of the whole retail industry, or how much consumers in total are spending in retail – retail spending represents approximately one-third of consumer spending. It is this measure that is often used by economists. Many retailers include distance sales as a component of total sales.
'Like-for-like' sales growth (LFL) is the percentage change in the value of comparable sales compared to the same period a year earlier. It excludes any spending in stores that opened or closed in the intervening year, thus stripping out the effect on sales of changes in floorspace. Many retailers include distance sales as a component of like-for-like comparable sales.
The like-for-like measure is often used by retailers, the city and analysts to assess the performance of individual companies, retail sectors and the industry overall, without the distorting effect of changes in floorspace.
Online (including mail order and phone) sales of non-food are transactions which take place over the internet, or via mail order or phone. Online sales growth is the percentage change in the value of online sales compared to those in the same period a year earlier. It is a guide to the growth of sales made by this non-store channel. It should be noted that online sales are still a small proportion of total UK retail sales. Estimates based on ONS figures show about 9 per cent of total UK retail sales (food and non-food) are achieved via the non-store channel.
The responses provided by retailers within each sales category are weighted (based on ONS weightings) to reflect the contribution of each category to total retail sales, thus making it representative of UK retail sales as a whole. Because the figures compare sales this month with the comparable period last year, a seasonal adjustment is not made. However, changes in the timing of Bank Holidays and Easter can create distortions, which should be considered in the interpretation of the data.
As well as receiving sales value direct from the retailers in the scheme the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor also receives food and drink sales value data from the IGD's Market Track Scheme.
In its role as sponsor of the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, KPMG is responsible for the aggregation of the retail sales data provided by the retailers on a weekly basis. This data consists of the relevant current week’s sales data and comparative sales figures for the same period in the prior year. The aggregation has been performed by KPMG on data for periods following 2 April 2000 and equivalent prior periods. The accuracy of the data is entirely the responsibility of the retailers providing it. The sponsorship role has been performed by KPMG since 10 April 2000 and the same for the aggregation of comparative sales figures for the period from 2 April 2000 it is not responsible for the aggregation of any data included in this Monitor relating to any period prior to 2 April 2000. The commentary from KPMG is intended to be of general interest to readers but is not advice or a recommendation and should not be relied upon without first taking professional advice. Anyone choosing to rely on it does so at his or her own risk. To the fullest extent permitted by law, KPMG will accept no responsibility or liability in connection with its sponsorship of the Monitor and its aggregation work to any party other than the BRC.
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The March 2013 Monitor, covering the five weeks 24 February – 30 March, will be released at 00.01am Tuesday 9 April 2013.
The data is collected and collated for the BRC by KPMG.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is the UK's leading retail trade association. It represents the full range of retailers, large and small, multiples and independents, food and non-food, online and store based.
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KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with over 11,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.7 billion in the year ended September 2011. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in 152 countries and have 145,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. KPMG International provides no client services.
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