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Last minute rush boosts Christmas trading results

Published: 13 January 2014
UK retail sales in December were up 0.4% LfL from December 2012, total sales were up 1.8% and there were mixed results in the home departments.
Last minute rush boosts Christmas trading results
According to the BRC-KPMG's December 2013 Retail Sales Monitor, the home accessories sector performed well, LfL growth in furniture and flooring was down (while total growth was up), and sales in house textiles were down. Home accessories was the fourth best performing sector for the month, "as the category lends itself to gifting in the festive season" and "there was strong demand for affordable items as stocking fillers," the report said.

Meanwhile, 'big ticket' items, such as furniture and flooring, continued to sell as a result of the housing recovery and bedroom furniture elements were the most sought-after, the BRC said; it speculated that people may have received extra guests over the Christmas period. In comparison, house textiles was "less popular" and the category finished at the bottom of the rankings table.

Overall, the sales total of 1.8% last month was the lowest growth of 2013 and the three-month average total growth (October to December) was less than last year. Online sales of non-food products grew by 19.2% from December 2012, the highest growth in four years. This comes after several reports of strong online sales for key retailers over Christmas, including Next and John Lewis; high street independents had a positive time too.

The BRC's director general, Helen Dickinson, said: "This is a respectable result overall, in line with our prediction that Christmas trading in 2013 would reflect that while confidence levels were higher than the previous year, this wasn't always matched by more money in pockets.

"Multichannel is the other big story of the season. This Christmas we've seen innovative retailers using click and collect and other approaches to make a virtue of both their website and their physical shops. And that's something we see growing in importance.

"Overall, this result meets expectations and draws to a close what has been a year of encouraging but fragile recovery. Retailers will be hoping that a good response to new ranges coupled with a continuing boost from post-Christmas sales events gets 2014 off to a promising start."

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