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Deloitte comments on latest ONS retail sales data

18 April 2013

Commenting on today’s ONS retail sales figures, Andy Coticelli consumer business partner in Yorkshire, said: “Today’s figures reflect a disappointing Easter performance. The industry hoped for a strong annual increase in sales, given the Easter break fell in March this year as opposed to April in 2012. In particular, the fashion sector suffered due to the prolonged winter weather. Spring/Summer collections were left out in the cold as consumers delayed seasonal purchases.

“Food retailers fared better as they capitalised on Mother’s Day and Easter celebrations. Those retailers with a strong online presence also reaped the rewards. Footfall fell as consumers opted to avoid the chill and shop from the comfort of their own home. Certainly, the weather highlighted the importance for retailers to have a nimble and responsive supply chain structure in place. The ability to adapt product offerings according to customer demand is crucial as unpredictable weather patterns become increasingly prevalent.

“Nevertheless, the outlook is beginning to look a little brighter for the retail industry in Yorkshire, following the opening of Trinity in Leeds and the successful sale of HMV and Blockbuster, including the acquisition of a number of sites by Morrisons in the latter case. Spring has finally arrived, inflation remains stable and credit availability continues to improve, suggesting pressure on purse strings is starting to ease.”


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Key Points

  • Users are reminded that the figures contained within this release are estimates produced from a monthly survey of 5,000 retailers in Great Britain. Unless otherwise stated, the estimates in this release are seasonally adjusted.
  • In March 2013, the quantity bought in the retail sector (or sales volumes) decreased by 0.5%. This follows strong year-on-year growth of 2.5% in February 2013 and a year-on-year decrease in January of 0.6%. Quarter 1 2013 does however show an increase of 0.4% compared with Quarter 4 2012.
  • The largest contribution to the year-on-year decrease came from the non-food sector, where compared with March 2012, the quantity of goods bought decreased by 2.6%.
  • March 2013 was the second coldest on record and this appears to have had a negative effect on sales in the non-food sector. Feedback from department stores, clothing stores and household goods stores suggested that sales were dampened by the weather as they prepared their stores for the spring season.
  • In March 2013, the overall proportion of non-seasonally adjusted online sales remained high at 10.4% reflecting feedback from large retailers, which suggested that during the continued winter weather consumers purchased from their online sites rather than in store.
  • The amount spent (or sales values) in the retail sector increased by 0.1% between March 2012 and March 2013. The largest contributions came from the food and non-store retailing sectors.
  • Looking at the monthly picture, (March 2013 compared with February 2013) the quantity bought decreased by 0.7%, whilst the amount spent remained unchanged at 0.0%.
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