Festive sales figures boosted by online growth

Online sales of non-food products in December saw a 7.2 per cent increase on the previous year, with nearly a quarter of all purchases during this period made online, according to the latest BRC – KPMG figures.

Despite the 7.2 per cent increase, this was the first growth below 10 per cent seen in four months. In fact, December 2016 growth was below the three month average of 9.5 per cent and the 12 month average of 10 per cent.

The figures also found that over the three months to December, online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 9.5 per cent year-on-year. Over the same period, total non-food sales in the UK grew 1.3 per cent.

Overall UK retail sales increased by one per cent on a like-for-like basis from December 2015, when they had increased 0.1 per cent from the previous year.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “After three months of double digit growth for online sales, December saw the third slowest growth rate of 2016 at 7.2 per cent. At first glance this may appear a disappointing figure; but with December taking the second highest volume of online sales in the year, after November, this makes it an extremely tough comparable period. So overall, this is a relatively solid performance.

“Shopping online is becoming increasingly popular during the festive month. The channel won its greatest share of December sales to date, with nearly a quarter of all purchases being made online. No doubt this was partly due to customers being able to receive deliveries right up to the two days before Christmas, thanks to retailers extending their delivery guarantees this year. The penetration rate for online sales now remains above 20 per cent for the fifteenth consecutive month.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, added: “Most online categories noted sales growth in December, which will of course be welcome news. However, whilst the shopping channel continues to grow in popularity, retailers will need to battle with the logistics of fulfilment and the flurry of goods returned post-Christmas. Retailers will be hoping this doesn’t result in too much of a hangover.”

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