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    Storms dampen retail sales growth in February

    The River Calder flows through Mytholmroyd past flood defences that are under construction after previous floods, on February 15, 2020 in Mytholmroyd, United Kingdom. (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

    Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge took their toll on the retail sector in February, as sales decreased by 0.4 percent on a like for like (LFL) basis, in contrast to the 2.6 percent jump in the same period last year.

    Non-food retail sales in the UK increased by 0.6% on LFL basis over the three months to February, as per the British Retail Consortium (BRC) data.

    However, the figure is positively distorted by the inclusion of Black Friday in December. For the month of February, non-food was in decline year-on-year.

    “Returning consumer confidence has done little to benefit retailers, with February’s sales growth down 0.4 percent on a like-for-like basis. The highly anticipated ‘Boris Bounce’ has clearly struggled to materialise in the embroiled retail sector, and looking ahead Covid-19 isn’t likely to help matters,” commented Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG.

    “February saw the UK get hit by one storm after another, so it’s unsurprising that online fared fractionally better than the high street. Generally though, demand for non-food items remains woefully low.”

    In-store sales of non-food items declined 1.9 percent on LFL basis over the three months, even after the positive distortion by Black Friday.

    Food sales increased 0.3 percent on LFL basis over this period, and 1 percent on a total basis.

    “After a decidedly lacklustre start to 2020, food and grocery sales in February saw a clear uptick from January with an increase in like-for-like and total growth,” commented Susan Barratt, chief executive of IGD.

    “Things like the timing of Valentine’s Day on a Friday certainly played a role in the middle of the month. Also, with increased attention on coronavirus, it seems likely this may have had a modest impact over the last week in particular with shoppers buying extra food and grocery items.”

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