UK retail sales stagnant in April

BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor indicates total retail sales in the UK in April were flat at 0%, against a 1.3% decrease in April 2015. The results were helped by a positive Easter distortion, but hindered by record declines in the fashion categories. Like-for-like retail sales fell 0.9%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, said: “April saw the second month of flat sales for UK retailers with positive food sales offset by record declines in fashion. As a result, the 12-month average growth for non-food sales slowed to 2.5 per cent while for food sales it nudged back into positive territory at 0.1 percent.”

“Over all, flat total sales mask a very mixed picture; some retailers benefitting from the healthy housing market, while others are evidently more susceptible to the effects of lower consumer confidence and a higher proportion of disposable income going into leisure and entertainment. While glimmers of hope are evident, the rapid pace of change in the industry, increasing cost pressures and other businesses burdens remain a cause for concern.”

Online non-food retail sales rose by 6.6% in April which, despite being a healthy increase, is the slowest growth since April 2013, Dickinson said. Online remained a significant proportion of total non-food retail sales at 20.9%.

“Today’s monitor also shows that online has been the driving force behind sales growth in the three months to April – digital sales contributed just over two percent to total non-food sales growth while store based transactions fell by 1.3 percent. With consumers no longer thinking in channels, physical stores can continue to contribute to the success of a retailer’s online offer and vice versa,” Dickinson added.

NEXT lowered its sales forecasts for the second time this year last week, and warned that this might not just be down to recent cold weather – there could be a broader consumer slowdown going on too. Meanwhile, store chains BHS and Austin Reed have gone into administration.

Regent Street London