High street sees January bounce as retail sales climb

The retail sector registered a boost in January. Picture: TSPL
The retail sector registered a boost in January. Picture: TSPL
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The high street rebounded strongly at the start of 2016 after an uneven festive period for many retailers, a new report out yesterday revealed.

Total retail revenues across all product categories jumped 3.3 per cent year-on-year in January, particularly driven by “big ticket” purchases such as furniture, according to the British Retail Consortium-KPMG retail sales monitor.

In a sign that the consumer spending lift to the economy is not faltering, the report shows underlying same-floorspace sales climbed 2.6 per cent.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of retail trade body the BRC, said: “Following on from a somewhat disappointing Christmas period for retailers, the new year kicked off to a strong start.

“This was the best performance for retailers since September and ahead of the three- and 12-month averages.

“January’s performance was driven by big-ticket items, in particular furniture, which is encouraging in the largest month of the year for the category.”

READ MORE: High street hope as festive food flurry buoys stores

Dickinson added that a better performance in clothing and footwear was driven by the New Year sales, although food sales were slightly down in January. She said retailers would “welcome the positive start” to 2016.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said the figures demonstrated “pretty solid” retail sales growth into the New Year.

“The overall impression is that consumers remain price savvy and are particularly keen to time their spending when they can get the best value for their money,” he said.

Archer added: “The prospects for consumer spending still look relatively heathy for 2016, with purchasing power likely decent and employment high and rising.”

The BRC-KPMG report said that online retail continued its success story, with sales in January up just under 15 per cent versus a year earlier, when they had jumped 11.7 per cent over the previous 12 months.

David McCorquodale, KPMG’s UK head of retail, said: “Fashion and the home drove retail sales to beat the January blues. After a slow start to the autumn/winter season, ­fashion and footwear sales soared in the early half of the month as promotional pricing caught the eye.”