David McCorquodale, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, comments on the latest Retail Sales figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS):
“The ONS statistics indicate a better than expected performance by the retail sector in February, which is hopefully indicative that consumer confidence is gathering pace. The rapid recovery underway in the housing market and falling unemployment levels are undoubtedly feeding this under a swell of positive sentiment and delivering a boost to the retail industry.
“Some sectors fared worse than others however. Clothing sales weren’t helped by poor weather, but this is an in between month for fashion; retailers will be hoping that the forthcoming weeks bring better weather, which will help them to launch their spring offerings.
“The growth in the food sector reflected in the ONS statistics is a segment to keep a watchful eye on going forward, given that some grocers have highlighted that they will make substantial price cuts in the weeks ahead. There is a real chance this growth in the grocery sector might not be sustainable in the long term.
“Improving weather, and the arrival of Mother’s Day, should help retailers drive sales in March. Sentiment in the sector is overwhelmingly positive and if the overall economic recovery remains on track, so will consumers’ willingness to spend.”
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