David McCorquodale, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, comments on the latest Retail Sales figures from the Office for National Statistics:
“Online sales soared in December, demonstrating that multi-channel consumers feel increasingly confident to buy their gifts online and trust they will be delivered in time for Christmas. The winners this year were those retailers with strong multi-channel models, offering shoppers a best in class service at a competitive price, even if some online sales came at a cost to store sales.
“Whilst the forthcoming months will see the usual seasonal slowing in sales, retailers need to ramp up activity in the back office and plough the proceeds of Christmas back into their systems and their multi-channel capability.
“This month’s ONS figures, boosted by having Black Friday and Christmas in the same period, reflect the fact that 2013 saw the return of growth to the high street – fragile as that growth may appear. The recession is over and at the successful retailers investment has already resumed. It is not too late for others to join the investment race but if they can’t snap out of survival mode, survival itself will become much harder.
“A return to growth brings different challenges for retailers as a different pressure builds up on working capital management, which requires close co-operation with suppliers and even greater attention to cash flows.”
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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 approximately 11,500 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.8 billion in the year ended September 2013. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 155,000 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. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.