United Kingdom


  • Industry: Retail and Consumer Goods
  • Type: Press release
  • Date: 03/12/2013

BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor November 2013 - online drives early Christmas shopping 

  • UK retail sales were up 0.6% on a like-for-like basis from November 2012, when they had increased 0.4% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 2.3%, against a 1.8% increase in November 2012.


  • The 3-month average total growth was 2.4% against 2.7% for the 12-month period, indicating a recent slowdown.


  • The fashion categories performed best, due to pent-up demand from the warm Autumn, while Other Non-Food would have seen a decline without online sales.


  • Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 16.0% in November versus a year earlier, when they had grown 7.5%. The online penetration rate achieved a new all-time record of 19.9% in November.


Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "After a slow start, November growth picked up in a big way in the final week, when the one month countdown to Christmas coupled with falling temperatures saw many of us making a start on seasonal spending.


"This trend was particularly evident on the non-food front, where clothing and footwear were star performers after a disappointing run of results, thanks to growing interest in winter clothes and partywear. Homewares had another strong showing, especially on the dining and decorative side, as thoughts turned to giving homes a festive refresh.


"Food was a little subdued in comparison, but this can be partly explained by the lower inflation rates of recent months. The signs are that many of us are putting some of what we save on food towards spending in other areas.


"Although slightly down on October, this is a respectable result, which keeps the three-month growth average ahead of the same period in 2012. With things as they currently stand, Christmas spending looks on course to be an improvement on last year, but December will decide it."


David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "It remains tough out there on the high street, with sales slow but growth steady. Shoppers are playing a waiting game and delaying purchases for as long as possible in the hope of securing a discount. Quite who will crack first in this war of nerves remains to be seen.


"There is a brutal price war being waged amongst the grocers, with discount brands appealing to cash-strapped consumers and steadily gaining market share. Christmas food sales may well polarise between the luxury treat and the discounted necessity, leaving the middle ground as the battlefield.


"The imminent hike in business rates hangs heavy over retailers’ heads. The sector as a whole is desperate to see the Chancellor commit to widescale rates reform in the forthcoming Autumn Statement.


"So here it is… multi-channel Christmas! Festive campaigns are now being played out and only those who have the stock, the systems and the logistics will be able to hold on to margin, whilst others may sell in the Christmas rush but count the cost in the aftermath."


Food & Drink sector performance – Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive, IGD, said: "Food and drink sales showed only a small increase in November, partly because of falling inflation. It seems that once again, shoppers are leaving their festive food buying until later. Six in ten tell us they will spend more time than last year hunting for the best deals, and four in ten seeking the best quality.


"Our ShopperVista research suggests a fairly good festive period for food retailers with 72 per cent of shoppers planning to spend more, or about the same, on their groceries compared to last Christmas. That’s up from 67 per cent who said this last year and 64 per cent in 2011."




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 these non-store channels. It should be noted that online sales are still a small proportion of total UK retail sales. Estimates based on ONS figures show about 10 per cent of total UK retail sales (food and non-food) are achieved via the internet.


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 aggregation of data for the weighted ‘online’ figures has been performed by the BRC and KPMG for periods starting 25 November 2012 and equivalent prior year periods. Prior to that date, the online figures in this monitor refer to the unweighted non-food non store indicator, as published in the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor until July 2013.


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.


© Copyright British Retail Consortium and KPMG


Media Enquiries


British Retail Consortium

21 Dartmouth Street



020 7854 8900



Mandy Ryan, 020 7854 8920

mobile: 07557 747 269




15 Canada Square

London E14 5GL

020 7311 1000



Zoe Sheppard, 0117 905 4337

mobile: 07770 737 994




The December 2013 Monitor, covering the five weeks 24 November – 28 December, will be released at 00.01am Friday 10 January 2014.

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.

Sponsored and Administered by


About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with over 10,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.8 billion in the year ended September 2012. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in more than 156 countries and have more than 152,000 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.


Food Data Supplied by

IGD makes a difference by providing international market intelligence, supply chain best practice and consumer insight to the food and grocery industry worldwide.

We work with consumers, companies and individuals across the chain to provide authoritative information, insight, thought leadership and leading edge best practice to help companies grow their business and develop their people.

Detailed weekly data by category is available to retailers who contribute to the monitor:

If you would like to participate in the Retail Sales Monitor, please contact:

Anne Alexandre
0207 854 8960 – anne.alexandre@brc.org.uk


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