20 January 2017

There were some surprises in store from this morning’s Retail Sales Statistics, which delivered the unexpected gift of a sales slowdown.

The key findings from the December Retail Statistics showed:

  • Estimates of the quantity bought in retail sales fell by 1.9% compared with November 2016
  • The largest contribution to the month-on-month fall came from non-food stores
  • The underlying trend remains one of growth with the 3 month on 3 month movement in the quantity bought increasing by 1.2%
  • Average store prices increased by 0.9% on the year and for all retailing excluding fuel prices increased by 0.1%; the first increase since June 2014
  • Online sales (excluding automotive fuel) increased year-on-year by 21.3%, but fell on the month by 5.3%; accounting for approximately 15% of all retail spending.

Phil Mullis, Head of Retail and Wholesale and Partner at Wilkins Kennedy, commented: “It came as a surprise that December’s retail sales were slower than expected – going against many predictions from retail industry experts.

“However, looking back at last year’s figures, it looked to be a similar story. Perhaps it is the influence of event retailing in the run up to Christmas, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If these fall in November then there is a chance that this could have an impact on quantity bought in the month of December.

“Retailers have worked hard to weather the storm following recent events, securing great relationships with suppliers in order to deliver the demands of the customer base. But they will need to batten down the hatches if they are to survive the upcoming changes to Living Wage and the Apprenticeship Levy on the horizon.”

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