17 February 2017

This morning’s Retail Sales Statistics delivered a gloomy start to 2017 as January demonstrated low levels of growth – despite sales events such as Chinese New Year and the January Sales.

The key findings from the January Retail Statistics showed:

  • The underlying pattern as suggested by the 3 month on 3 month movement decreased by 0.4%; the first fall since December 2013.
  • Average store prices (including fuel) increased by 1.9% on the year, the largest contribution to this increase came from petrol stations, where year-on-year average prices were estimated to have risen by 16.1%.
  • Online sales (excluding fuel) increased by 10.1% year-on-year, but fell on the month by 7.2%; accounting for approximately 14.6% of all retail spending.
  • In January 2017, the quantity bought in the retail industry is estimated to have increased by 1.5% compared with January 2016, the lowest growth since November 2013.
  • Month-on-month the quantity bought is estimated to have fallen by 0.3%.

Phil Mullis, Head of Retail and Wholesale and Partner at Wilkins Kennedy, commented: “Despite the Year of the Rooster giving Chinese New Year a short term sales boost for some retailers, there was very little to report in terms of growth.

“Following a slower-than-expected December, it is worrying that there has now been two months of slowing growth although there was no change in the amount spent in December 2016 – so it hasn’t gone backwards at least. There is also positive wage growth and online year on year sales have grown 10% on an annual basis so there are some positives from today’s statistics.

“Thanks to a warm February and Valentine’s Day, hopefully there could be a seasonal spring in the step next month.”

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