Press releases

Deloitte comments on ONS retail sales

15 February 2019

Commenting on today’s ONS retail sales figures, Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte, said:

“Month-on-month retail sales values and volumes (excluding fuel) both grew 1.3% and 1.2% respectively in January, as consumers seem more resilient. Compared to the same period last year, January 2019 also saw greater sales values, up 4.3%, with sales volumes also increasing by 4.1%.

“Those making the most of January sales will have contributed to growth across non-food categories; which saw a boost of 4.1%. In particular clothing and footwear sales growth (4.5%) is likely to have been fuelled by heavy discounting. The impact of this on retailers’ overall profits, however, remains to be seen.

“Food sales were better than expected after Christmas, as its overall value grew 4.1% compared to the same time last year, following a period of falling food prices. January’s food sales growth may also be a reflection of seasonal food trends, such as ‘Veganuary’.

“With household incomes rising, and unemployment, interest rates and inflation remaining low, retailers have clearly begun 2019 with a running start. However, the year-on-year growth in sales and volumes that we’ve seen may not necessarily continue, as Brexit uncertainties combined with a subdued housing market are having an impact not only on consumer confidence but also on sales of big-ticket items. Despite this, consumers have more money in their pockets, and we are seeing more willingness to exercise purchasing power. Maintaining this will be a continual challenge for retailers in 2019.

“Notably, online sales saw a small seasonal decrease of 1% in January, accounting for 18.8% of overall sales but up 9.8% from January 2018. Overall, online sales are likely to see steady growth in 2019 as consumers increasingly opt to shop at home or via mobile devices.

“2018 was a challenging year for the retail industry, as 125 retailers went into administration. To protect their business against these headwinds, retailers need to do a number of things including restructuring their real estate, implementing strategic cost reductions, focus on the core while also continuing to invest in key areas of online.”


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