The latest monthly release from the British Retail Consortium Retail Sales Monitor indicates that UK retail sales grew by 3% in January 2013, the highest level of growth since September 2012. Like-for-like growth was 1.9%, the highest rate of uplift for 13 months. While January 2012 presents something of a soft comparative, this year's performance was in spite of extensive disruption of normal shopping patterns due to snow.
Online stays strong despite snow
While store shopping for non-food tends to suffer in the snow, as shoppers focus on stocking up with groceries, online retailing can actually benefit from the snow as people stay in and spend time browsing the internet, letting someone else (i.e. the retailer) worry about delivery. During January online non-food remained notably strong with sales up 10.1%, even though some 'click & collect' operators noted some drop in demand.
Three month trend remains subdued
In the three month period from November to January overall UK retail sales were just 0.8% ahead on a like-for-like basis. Non-food remains the slowest element of the market on 0.7%, though food remains a little stronger on 1%. This represents a modest acceleration on three previous month; however, by historical levels the rate of growth in food is still low.
Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive, IGD commented:
"The first trading week in January was particularly strong although our period included New Year's Eve, unlike last year, making the comparison difficult. However, the resilience of the market in the second half of the month, despite severe weather, gives further grounds for cautious optimism. Many people tighten their belts in January and, while price is obviously an important factor, our ShopperVista research shows that 53% of shoppers say they are willing to pay extra for high quality ingredients."