UK retail sales took a dip in the first four weeks of January, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

Busy high street

Total retail sales increased by 4.2% in January, compared with 11.9% in January 2022.

This was below the three-month average growth of 5.2% and above the 12-month average growth of 2.5%, according to the data covering January 1 to 28, 2023.

Like-for-like sales increased by 3.9% in January compared with 11.9% in the same month last year. This was below the 4.9% three-month average growth and above the 1.5% 12-month average growth.


Over the period, total food sales increased by 8% and like-for-like sales increased by 7.9% over the three months to January.

Food was in growth year on year, being above the 3.5% 12-month total average growth.

Total sales for non-food items increased by 2.9% and like-for-like sales increased by 2.5% over the three months to January. This was above the 1.6% yearly total average growth. 

Total sales for non-food items in store increased by 7.2% over the three months to January and like-for-like sales increased by 6.5% since the same month last year – below the 17.4% yearly growth. 

Online non-food sales decreased by 3.6% in January, compared with 24.2% in January 2022 – below the three-month average decline of 2.4% and above the 9.7% yearly decline.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “As Christmas cheer subsided, retailers felt the January blues as sales growth slowed.

“Many retailers discounted heavily to entice consumer spend and, while there were bargains to be had in the January Sales, retailers continue to be hit by lower margins and falling volumes. Own-brand ranges remain popular across food and non-food products, and big-ticket items are seeing customers trade down.

“The coming months will continue to be challenging for retailers and their customers. Consumer confidence remains stubbornly low and looming rises in household bills and mortgages mean discretionary spending will remain weak.

“With ongoing cost pressures and labour shortages, increases in sales don’t convert into increases in profits or cash.

“Given that backdrop, retailers can ill afford the millions lost to the inflexibilities of the apprenticeship levy, so the government must urgently look to change the system so retailers can use the funds to train their workforce to better meet the needs of their businesses and the people who work in them.”

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