13th December 2017- Industry Leaders Discuss Online and In-Store Sales in 2017

The British Retail Consortium - KPMG Retail Sales Monitor reported that in November 2017 UK retail sales increased by 0.6% on a like-for-like basis from November 2016 (the same growth rate as the previous year). In the three months to November, it reports a 3% sales decline in non-food items in-store, and on a 12-month basis, a total decline of 2.2%, the deepest since their records began in January 2012. Growth rates for food, however, were 2.8% and 3.4% respectively. In contrast, it reports a 6.5% growth in Online sales of Non-Food products in November, below the 3-month and 12-month averages of 7.3% and 8.0% respectively. It reports an online penetration rate increase from 26.3% in November 2016 to 27.4% in November 2017, the highest on record.

"The statistics from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor echo trends in moves from in-store to online as a sales channel. However, the decline in sales growth is concerning, and likely a result of Brexit uncertainty.", says Deborah Collier, President at The Certificate in Online Business.

Concerns around the impact of Brexit are echoed by Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium “With current conditions likely to persist into next year, the Government needs to do all it can to support the UK’s consumers, not least by securing a fair Brexit for them in the forthcoming trade negotiations.”, advises Ms Dickinson

What About Black Friday Sales?

“Black Friday, the big retail event of the month, failed to fundamentally shift underlying trends in spending" “That’s not to deny that Black Friday was a significant event. Sales of non-food products that week were over 40 per cent higher than in the other weeks of the month, while it was the biggest week ever for non-food products online. However, rather than increasing overall sales, the event has shifted spending away from other parts of the festive period, and focusses shoppers’ attentions online and away from stores.

“There was a mixture of performances across the industry over Black Friday itself, with retailers reporting shoppers being tempted solely by generous promotions, but resisting other items. Gaming, wearable tech and ‘internet of things’ performed well, while toys, last year’s star performer, saw sales sharply down this year.

“This year’s Black Friday has demonstrated that in such a tough economic environment, consumers have become ever more careful, willing to wait and deploy their discretionary income only when they see an exceptional bargain. That heralds a challenging festive period ahead for retailers and shoppers alike", says Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive at the British Retail Consortium.

Which Products Sold Well During Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Paul Martin, Head of Retail, KPMG, delivers his insights:

“Despite Cyber Monday falling outside November’s figures, sales growth was clearly more prominent online, with non-food online sales up 6.4 per cent on last year and penetration rates as high as 27.4 per cent. After previous in-store stampedes, it is clear that retailers are increasingly moving Black Friday away from the high street".

“New shoes as well as health and beauty products are what filled online baskets thanks to timely promotion, but surprisingly toys and baby equipment didn’t appear to make much headway. It’s most likely that growth in toy sales were simply overshadowed by the bumper sales growth recorded last year, rather than being overlooked completely.

“In what remains of this year, the difference between success and failure will be akin to retailers walking a tightrope. Retailers would be wise to focus on differentiation, personalisation and ensuring the availability of their products in the coming weeks.”

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