March 12 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

Retail Sales Prove the Power of Ecommerce

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Poor weather has kept shoppers away from the high street recently, according to new research, but ecommerce has grown at the same time …

 

The latest data from KPMG and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) may not be the most inspiring of reads, but it reflects the difficult period many businesses have experienced as poor weather has taken its toll.

 

According to yesterday’s (March 11th) Retail and Online Retails Sales Monitors, overall non-food retail sales in the UK were down by one per cent in February on a like-for-like basis compared to the same month last year. Perhaps that’s unsurprising, since serious weather conditions across the country and widespread flooding in a number of areas have made sure many shoppers have preferred to stay at home.

Overall, the figures are actually more positive. On a total basis, sales edged up by 0.7 per cent – positive movement, but much slower growth than the 4.4 per cent recorded in February 2013. Taking a long-term view performance is stronger, with a 2.8 per cent average total growth rate over the past three months.

“February saw a hiatus on the high street, with online sales soaring while in store sales stalled,” says David McCorquodale, KPMG head of retail. “There’s no doubt inclement weather exacerbated this trend, but it certainly underscores the importance of having a sophisticated online operation.”

 

Last month’s non-food sales figures would have been much lower were it not for the fact that online retail shot up by more than 14 per cent year-on-year. Of the total, 17.5 per cent of total non-food sales came from ecommerce – an increase from the 15.4 per cent figure recorded in February 2013.

Helen Dickinson, director general at BRC, says that retailers are continuing to invest in online retail offerings so they can meet the growing needs of their customers.

“Consumers are increasingly using smartphones and tablets to research and buy almost every type of product, and retailers continue to invest heavily to provide the seamless customer journey that shoppers are demanding,” she explains, adding that the industry is innovating to put ecommerce more firmly at the centre of their adapted business structures.

 

There will be plenty of work to do, as the retail sector looks to cater to demand for online services while ensuring that their physical stores stay relevant. Either way, with a busier spring season expected to start soon it looks like there will be at least some short-term improvements – retailers will need to capitalise on this if they are going to make the most of the spending power in an improving UK economy.

Thiago Kiwi

Thiago is the LSBF Blog Editor who manages news and features content on the site, and writes about business, finance, technology, education and careers.

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