• Online sales up 12.3% year on year
  • Industry sales by value up 1.4% last month
  • Fashion retailer volumes fall 2.4%

Online retail sales by value jumped 12.3% last month while overall retail sales increased 1.4%, latest figures from the ONS show.

Sales volumes for the industry overall rose 3.8%, ONS figures published today revealed. 

“A number of analysts expected online sales to plateau following the Christmas period, however, the opposite has occurred,” said Deloitte head of retail Ian Geddes.

However, fashion retailers’ volumes fell 2.4% year on year and a dip of 0.4% compared with last month. 

Keith Richardson, managing director, retail sector at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said while people can be persuaded to spend during the Sales “it is far harder to encourage them to open their purses without discounts”.

“Just as a bumper November – thanks to Black Friday – was followed by a dismal December, so too were rising sales in January followed by falls in February.”

Richardson said there were stronger sales of big-ticket items such as furniture, but that these “weren’t enough to counter the fall in clothing, and in food sales due to the prolonged supermarkets price wars.”

Easter promises

Looking ahead, Geddes said the early Easter weekend will likely “put a spring in the step for March’s retail sales figures”. 

“Not only will consumers use the long weekend to purchase items in store, particularly in traditional segments such as gardening and DIY, but the additional leisure time will also encourage consumers to spend more time browsing and shopping online.”

However, with wet weather forecast for Easter – and the threat of the living wage just days away – retailers “need to make sure they can tempt shoppers to spend without the incentive of margin-crushing discounts”, Geddes added.