UK retail sales experienced their strongest growth since March 2010 last month as clothing and footwear also delivered a solid start to the year.
According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor like-for-like sales rose 3.9% in January compared with last year, while on a total basis sales were up 5.4%.
Non-food was a key contributor to growth and clothing sales were boosted by both Sales and new spring ranges coming into stores.
In general there was a strong sales performance across menswear, womenswear and kidswear, however the revenues were also flattered by an easy comparative in 2003 when the snow kept people indoors. There was a good demand for blouses, nightwear, and for women’s accessories rather than for heavy coats.
Footwear sales were also very strong last month with a good demand for both boots and slippers.
Online sales of non-food products rose 19.2% during the month, the strongest January since 2009. In January online sales represented 17.4% of total non-food sales compared with 16.3% in January 2013. Online clothing sales also grew, with online sales across the sector making up 21.2% of the total.
Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, said: “Our figures for January show strong growth but a story of two halves. With a record number of people now in work and the continued recovery in the housing market we have seen very strong performances in furniture and other non-food items. These figures are better than expected given the continued squeeze on personal finances but official figures show that this is not built on personal debt which remains below pre-recession levels.”
She added customers had responded enthusiastically to Sales and promotions on non-food items.