The pandemic has meant much of retail bounced between being open and closed, significantly impacting sales and changing consumer behaviours. In January 2021, non-essential retail stores were closed, pushing many consumers to buy goods online. In this context, while all comparisons are provided on a year-on-year (YoY) basis, those focused on online/in-store have also been compared with January 2020 (Yo2Y). This will be clearly signposted below.
Sales figures are not adjusted for inflation. Given that both the January SPI (BRC) and December CPI (ONS) show inflation running at historically high levels, a portion of the sales growth will be a reflection of rising prices rather than increased volumes.
Covering the four weeks 2 - 29 January 2022
- On a Total basis, sales increased by 11.9% in January, against a decline of 1.3% in January 2021. This is above the 3-month average growth of 6.0% and the 12-month average growth of 10.9%. On a two-year basis, Total retail sales grew 7.5% (Yo2Y) during January compared with the same month in 2020.
- UK retail sales increased 8.1% on a Like-for-like basis from January 2021, when they had increased 7.1%. This was above the 3-month average growth of 3.3% and below the 12-month average growth of 9.0%.
- Over the three months to January, Food sales decreased 0.1% on a Total basis and 0.5% on a Like-for-like basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 2.4%. For the single month of January, Food was in decline year-on-year.
- Over the three-months to January, Non-Food retail sales increased by 11.1% on a Total basis and by 6.5% on a Like-for-like basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 18.0%. For the single month of January, Non-Food was in growth year-on-year.
- Over the three months to January, In-Store sales of Non-Food items grew 67.6% on a Total basis and 54.0% on a Like-for-like basis. This was above the Total 12-month average growth of 51.1%.
- On a two-year comparison, over the three months to January, In-Store sales of Non-Food items declined 7.5% (Yo2Y) on a Total basis. This is worse than the 2019 Total average decline of 3.1%.
- Online Non-Food sales decreased by 24.2% during January, compared with growth of 83.0% January 2021. This is a decline from the 3-month decline of 18.3%. On a two-year comparison, Online Non-Food sales increased by 31.8% (Yo2Y) in January. This is above the 3-mth average increase of 24.8%.
- Non-Food Online penetration rate decreased to 41.5% in January from 66.2% in January 2021. However, it was up 10.3 percentage points on the 31.2% seen at the same point in 2020.
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium
“It is encouraging to see such strong sales in January, even once inflation has been accounted for. Food sales were more muted than in previous months, as people went back to eating out more often. Consumers prioritised home purchases, boosting the sale of household appliances, electronics and homeware. In what may be signs of a return to pre-pandemic trends, furniture was the stand-out performer in January, after transport delays in the Christmas period began to ease.
“Retailers and consumers face challenges in the coming months. Retailers face competition from other spending opportunities as the public flood back to restaurants, cafes and live events. Furthermore, rising inflation, driven by higher costs of production, higher energy and transport prices, as well as other looming price hikes this Spring will mean consumers will have to tighten their purse strings.”
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