January’s retail sales were ‘surprisingly good’

The value of UK retail sales enjoyed a boost in January, up 1.1% on a like-for-like basis, and 3.2% overall from January 2008.
However, while the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed that food sales showed stronger growth, non-food sales remained down on those of a year ago – though by less than in December – relying on heavy discounting.

January’s non-food non-store sales, though, were up 19.2% over a year ago. In December, the figure was 30.0%, demonstrating the extent to which consumers used the internet for Christmas shopping.

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson described the figures as “surprisingly good”, and said they “give some room for optimism. Overall sales growth turned positive and is higher than it’s been since last May. Food sales growth rose. Non-food sales fell more slowly suggesting January clearance deals released pent-up demand and customers started to spend on goods they’ve been intending to buy for months.”

He added: “It remains to be seen whether January’s discount-driven growth was just a blip.”

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