The latest retail figures reveal that sales grew at their fastest rate in 13 months in January despite widespread snow across the country. According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) last month’s like-for-like retail sales were up 1.9 per cent on the previous year.
January online sales were also strong – more than 10 per cent higher compared to that in January 2012. Sales of televisions, smartphones and tablet computers were particularly strong, the BRC said.
Helen Dickinson, BRC Director General said: “After a fairly subdued December, these results are sure to lift spirits for many.
“People were tempted out by offers and promotions but also treated themselves to full-price and premium products early in January, particularly must-have technology items.
“These factors, coupled with recovering consumer confidence, have added up to a more successful January than we saw last year.”
Although the snow hit sales, its impact was restricted and did not cancel out the month’s otherwise high sales, she added.
Dickinson said: “Its force was felt in some areas more than others – footwear performed well thanks to a ‘boots boost’ but it wasn’t such a good month for clothing.”
The figures announced that the mood was “lifting a little” for both retailers and customers the BRC said.
However despite January’s strong sales, three high street firms called in administrators over the course of the month.
David McCorquodale, Head of retail at accountancy group KPMG, said improvements in technology had hastened the passing of HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster, which have all collapsed since the start of 2013.
McCorquodale added: “Many retailers will look back at the last two months with pride after implementing successful seasonal campaigns where they have served the customer well.”
The BRC results come as a Markit/Cips Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the UK’s leading service sector reveal growing confidence among businesses during January.
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