January retail sales fall as lockdown restrictions hammer stores

January retail sales fall as lockdown restrictions hammer stores
The latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for the month showed a slump in total sales, while a separate report from Barclaycard revealed the sharpest fall in consumer spending since May.
// BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for January shows total retail sales fell 1.3%
// Non-food sales 5.6% lower as online clothing and homeware sales only partially offset closures
// Food sales jumped by 7.9%

Retail sales slid in January as the latest national lockdown measures hammered shops across the UK, according to new figures.

The latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for the month showed a slump in total sales, while a separate report from Barclaycard revealed the sharpest fall in consumer spending since May.

The BRC’s data indicated that total retail sales fell by 1.3 per cent in January as rapid online growth failed to entirely offset the plunge in store sales.


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Over the three months to January, sales of non-food items in stores dived by 36.5 per cent as retailers were heavily impacted by the January lockdown.

Total non-food sales were 5.6 per cent lower for the period as online clothing and homeware sales only partially offset closures.

Meanwhile, food sales jumped by 7.9 per cent for the three-month period as grocery stores remained open to shoppers.

“January saw retail sales growth decline to its lowest level since May of last year,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“The current lockdown has hit non-essential retailers harder than in November, with the new variant hampering consumer confidence and leading customers to hold back on spending – especially on clothing and footwear.

“Meanwhile, retailers have worked incredibly hard to expand their online delivery and click and collect offerings to ensure everyone can get the products they need during lockdown.

“This has led to record growth for online non-food sales and is a testament to the resilience and innovation of retail, which in the face of the pandemic, has rapidly adapted and invested in online platforms and delivery logistics.”

KPMG head of retail Paul Martin said: “Computing was the hot category and saw triple figure growth online as schools closed and parents rushed to purchase laptops and printers.

“Meanwhile, clothing retailers continued to struggle with physical sales down across all categories.”

A separate report by Barclaycard revealed that consumer spending slumped by 16.3 per cent in January, representing the sharpest decline since May in the face of the latest lockdown.

The analysis of credit and debit card spending showed that shoppers spent almost-a-quarter less on non-essential items against the same period last year amid store closures.

Not-essential spending in January fell by 24.2 per cent, with department store retailers witnessing a 36.8 per cent sales slump while clothing sales were 25 per cent lower.

Meanwhile, the report said that sales of essential items grew 3.9 per cent as high demand for home deliveries sparked a 126.8 per cent surge in online grocery spending.

“As the impact of the latest lockdown start to take its toll, we’ve seen particular sectors struggle, as physical premises across the UK were forced to close,” Barclaycard head of consumer products Raheel Ahmed said.

“Last month’s glimmer of hope for the travel sector also seems to have stalled as tougher border controls saw bookings drop.

“Yet, on a more positive note, we have seen a surge in many online categories as the demand for home deliveries continues to rise.”

with PA Wires

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