Retail sales slowed to a near standstill in February, as like-for-like sales grew by just 0.1% compared with the same month last year.
That’s according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG Retail Sales Monitor which found on a total basis sales were up 1.1%, against a 1.7% rise in February 2015.
February’s slowdown puts the three-month average growth in line with the 12-month average of 1.8%. February growth was mostly driven by furniture and home accessories again, while food, clothing and footwear experienced declines on a like-for-like basis.
However, the monitor added jewellers made the best out of Valentine’s Day, as the jewellery and watches category achieved a top three position in the growth rankings table.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “February’s slowdown was noticeable across all product categories bar stationery and health & beauty, as Valentine’s Day provided a welcome growth spurt for those retailers well prepared for the occasion.
“This slow growth reflects the increasing pressure the industry is under, as highlighted in our recent Retail 2020 report. With the Budget due this month, we encourage the government to address the cumulative burden that retailers face; enabling growth and protecting jobs and communities.”
Meanwhile, online sales of non-food products grew 10.7% in February compared with a year earlier, when they had grown 8.3%. The non-food online penetration rate remained above 20% at 20.4%, 1.5% up on February last year.
Mobile phones were found to be the real driver of online sales, although the monitor also said that the jewellery and watches category performed well.