The value of all retail sales (excl. fuel) increased 2.3% in February, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Food sales increased by 3.2% for the month while department store sales inches up 0.2%.
Clothing and footwear increased 1.8% while household goods declined by 2.3% for February compared to last year. Online sales for the month increased by 6.7% and was the standout sector in February.
“The period covered within these numbers runs until the 29 February, which means the significant uptick in demand in grocery and other key sectors we are currently seeing is not reflected within the numbers. The weekend of the 29th is significant as this is when we first saw signs, with Ocado emailing customers to expect delays, of the demand to come but we will have to wait until the March numbers to see the full impact. What we do have within this release is the final, for now, set of numbers under ‘normal’ trading conditions. The grocery sector continued its good start to the year (+3.2% in value and +2.4% in volume) whilst non-food demand continued to be sluggish with growth of just 0.2%. It may be hard to remember now but the significant poor weather and storms during the month was the mitigating factor, slowing growth in most non-food categories. The notable, logical, exception was DIY which enjoyed its first positive month in terms of value sales (+3.5%) since January 2019. Online growth also continued to slow, to a low of just 5.3%, whilst the online-only retailers recorded their lowest growth (+7.1%) for over two years, excluding Black Friday distortions, a trend which we very much expect to be reversed in March.”