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    Wettest February on record dampens retail sales: BRC

    (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

    Consumer demand was dampened by the wettest February on record, translating into a poor month of retail sales growth, shows recent industry report.

    According to the latest retail sales monitor from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the advisory firm KPMG published today (5), total retail sales increased by 1.1 per cent year on year in February, against a growth of 5.2 per cent last year. This was below the both 3-month average growth as well as the 12-month average growth.

    Food sales increased 6.0 per cent year on year over the three months to February, against a growth of 8.3 per cent in February 2023. This is below the 12-month average growth of 7.9 per cent.

    Non-Food sales decreased 2.5 per cent year on year over the three-months to February, against a growth of 3.2 per cent. In-store Non-Food sales over the three months to February decreased 2.3 per cent year on year, against a growth of 8.1 per cent in February 2023.

    Online Non-Food sales decreased by 4.1 per cent year on year in February, against a decline of 3.1 per cent in February 2023. The online penetration rate (the proportion of Non-Food items bought online) decreased to 35.7 per cent in February from 36.1 per cent in February 2023.

    Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said, “Consumer demand was dampened by the wettest February on record, translating into a poor month of retail sales growth. Not even Valentine’s Day lifted customers out of the gloom, and gifting products that typically sell well, like jewellery and watches, failed to deliver. On the sunnier side, rainy weather did brighten sales of toys, as parents looked for ways to occupy their children indoors.

    “With consumer confidence and demand remaining weak, Government must find ways to stimulate the economy. Retailers have some Government induced cost hurdles to jump in the coming months including a £400m business rates rise based on last September’s 6.7 per cent inflation rate. By using Wednesday’s Budget to reduce this, the Chancellor will lend a helping hand to much needed investment in businesses and local communities up and down the country.”

    Sarah Bradbury, CEO, IGD, said, “The UK grocery market saw sales and volumes both increasing from last year, with February the third month in a row where volumes were in year-on-year growth. However, although sales were also up on last year, they were down compared to the previous month. This is the fifth month in a row this has occurred, and the trend is likely to continue as inflation leaves the market.

    “Following news that the UK entered a technical recession over the festive period, shoppers were feeling slightly less positive in February than they were in January. However, confidence levels didn’t slip as far as they could have, with the promise of lower energy bills on the horizon and indications that the recession could in fact already be over playing a role here.”

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