- UK retail sales values were up 0.4% on a like-for-like basis from November 2011, when they were down 1.6% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 1.8%, against a 0.7% rise in November 2011.
- Non-food benefitted from the favourable timing of the half-term this month while food was characterised by cautiousness ahead of the gift buying season. On a 3-month basis, food declined in real terms.
- Online sales were up 7.5% versus November 2011, showing no material pick-up from October.
Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "November was off to a flying start helped by end-of-month paydays, mid-season sales and the impact of half term, which had been in the previous month last year. But sales growth slowed as November unfolded, suggesting that customers are taking care not to spend too much too soon, although must-have toy and technology items did well as people bought early so as not to be disappointed.
"Overall, the emphasis continued to be on value with consumers looking at lower priced gifts. The same caution hit online sales, which delivered their third worst performance of the year. With consumers conscious that there will be a full shopping weekend immediately before Christmas, retailers are holding their nerve and counting on a last minute rush in the crucial final weeks."
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "November was a cautious month of wait and see. The like-for-like indicators in food and non-food are positive but only just, against a weak set of comparatives last year. It appears that consumers know they have to spend before Christmas but are holding off for as long as they can to see if there might be bargains available in the next few weeks. Retailers meanwhile are trying to hold firm to maintain their margins but, if volumes don’t pick up significantly in the next two weeks, some will bow to the pressure to clear stocks before the ear end and cut their prices.
"Another interesting d namic was the double digit increase in like-for-likes across clothing and in children’s footwear during the first week of the month. This perhaps reflects the strain on family finances as necessities are only bought in the immediate aftermath of the monthly payday.
"Much is hoped for from the Chancellor’s Autumn statement but in the meantime, retailers enter December in a state of nervousness due to weak top-line growth and pressure on margins. Pricing throughout the month and strategic promotions will be fundamental in a key month."
Food & Drink sector performance – Jon Woolven, Strategy and Innovation Director, IGD, said: "Food and groceries sales received a boost in the first half of this latest trading period, supported by Halloween and Bonfire night celebrations. But, as November progressed, sales tailed off as people reassessed their finances with Christmas round the corner.
"Although the mood remains generall downbeat, there are still opportunities to encourage shoppers to trade up this Christmas. Our ShopperVista research reveals that over a third still say the quality of the goods the bu is the most important factor when shopping for groceries."
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 weekl 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 December 2012 Monitor, covering the five weeks 25 November – 29 December, will be released at 00.01am Tuesday 8 January 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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