Press releases

Deloitte comments on ONS retail sales

21 March 2019

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

“February’s retail sales values and volumes (excluding fuel) saw marginal increases month-on-month, up 0.4% and 0.2% respectively. On a year-on-year basis, the growth was stronger, with values rising by 4.1% and sales volumes up by 3.8% compared to February 2018, painting a more positive picture. Non-food retailing was the big driver for the increases. This largely offset the 1.2% monthly decline in food sales, the subsector’s biggest decline since December 2016, which can largely be attributed to a normalising of food sales following the January’s sales period.

“February’s milder temperatures would have been welcome news to high street retailers with raw memories of last year’s ‘Beast from the East’. However, the record-breaking warm weather of late February, falling just shy of this month’s reporting period, could result in a further boost for March’s retail sales.

“Although online sales continued to decline on a monthly basis, accounted for 17.6% of total sales in February 2019, down from 18.8% the previous month, it is nevertheless still up 9.4% compared to last year, and remains a vital channel for retailers.

“2019 continues to see a combination of strong employment, low interest rates, falling inflation, and rising household incomes. Despite these favourable economic fundamentals, consumer confidence will continue to be influenced by macroeconomic and political uncertainty. It is recognised across the industry that the challenging environment retailers faced in 2018 hasn't gone away. However, the emergence of new technologies, such as 5G, artificial intelligence and 3D printing present ambitious retailers with a huge opportunity to innovate to stay relevant to customers.”


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