Shoppers defy snow to boost sales
Shoppers out in force.
by business editor Trevor Sturgess
Despite the woes of several big name retail chains and January
snow, shoppers boosted sales last month.
As Comet and Jessops disappeared from the high street, while HMV
and Blockbuster plunged into administration, overall sales rose 3%
year on year - the highest growth since September.
Like-for-like sales edged up 1.9%, the highest for 13 months.
Footwear did well thanks to a "boots boost".
But the growing popularity of online shopping that largely
killed off Comet and Jessops was highlighted by a 10.1%
year-on-year rise, slightly less than the previous figure but still
Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail
Consortium, said: "After a fairly subdued December, these results
are sure to lift spirits for many.
"Retailers didn't have high hopes for strong sales at Christmas,
but this meant that they prepared well and headed into the New Year
with less stock to clear than last year.
"People were tempted out by offers and promotions but also
treated themselves to full-price and premium products early in
January, particularly must-have technology items. These factors,
coupled with recovering consumer confidence, have added up to a
more successful January than we saw last year."
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: "January's
sales figures will give retailers reasons to be cheerful as
like-for-like sales achieved the highest increase seen since
December 2011. It's a strong start to what is anticipated to be a
tough year for the sector.
"While technology advances may have hastened the demise of HMV,
Blockbuster and Jessops, many retailers will look back at the last
two months with pride after implementing successful seasonal
campaigns where they have served the customer well.
"Sales are only one side of the equation and time will soon
reveal the true cost of the promotions and margin squeezes used to
drive these sales. However, it is encouraging to see such positive
results in what is traditionally a challenging month."
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