Retail sales edged up 0.1% on a like-for-like basis as Christmas failed to spark the spending spree retailers had hoped for.
Here is a closer look at how each sector performed in the month to January 2, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
Food – up
Unseasonable weather slowed food purchases at the beginning of the month but the sector recovered in the lead-up to Christmas, delivering marginal growth after two months of decline.
Total food sales were up 0.2% year on year in the three months to December, below the average growth of 0.3% over 12 months. Despite the increase of festive food purchases, like-for-like sales fell 1.1%, driven by deflation, changing consumer habits and competition.
Clothing – down
Warm weather continued to impact sales of outwear and knitwear in December and sales were down for the second consecutive month.
Although Cyber Monday helped increase sales at the start of the month the promotional activity meant many retailers sacrificed margins to increase sales. Like-for-like and total sales both declined and with the start of January Sales it is likely revenue in the sector has been lost rather than delayed.
Footwear – up
Footwear performed well in December as like-for-like and total sales both rose, although the increase was below average for 2015. Menswear was the biggest seller in the sector while children’s ranges underperformed.
Promotional activity is likely to have affected margins but new ranges also sold well.
Health and beauty – up
Revenue in this sector saw a modest increases in like-for-likes and total sales. Sales were slow at the beginning of the month following Black Friday promotions but fragrance and gifts sets drove growth in the final week of Christmas.
The warm weather impacted sales of cold and cough remedies and health sales underperformed.
Furniture – up
Furniture slipped to the third-best performing category in December, down for the strongest sector the previous month.
Sales were below the sector’s 12-month average, despite like-for-likes and total sales both increasing. Nevertheless, sales in the sector remained relatively strong as consumers continued to make big-ticket purchases throughout the month.
Home accessories – up
Home accessories was the strongest category in the growth ranking table in December, with sales rising at the fastest rate since January 2014. Lighting performed particularly well, fuelled by the demand for Christmas decorations
House textiles – up
Like-for-like and total sales of house textiles were up in December following a difficult two months and the category was the fifth on the growth leader board.
Toys and baby equipment – up
Toys and baby equipment had its strongest sales performance in six months in December, although heavy discounting meant retailers sacrificed margins. The category had the second-highest ranking in the growth ranking table as total and like-for-like sales saw both increased.
Household appliances – down
Household appliances had a steep drop in sales, as revenue in the category fell from the second strongest category in November to eleventh in December’s ranking.
Although sales at the beginning of the month were supported by Cyber Monday it is thought that promotional activity linked to Black Friday pulled forward purchases at the expense of December’s sales.
Jewellery and watches – up
Sales of jewellery and watches grew at the fastest rate for four months in December, ranking fourth on the leader board for the month.