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BRC releases December’s Retail Sales Monitor

In-store sales of non-food items declined by almost a quarter in 2020, compared to 2019, according to a new report.

However, briefly opening shops in December boosted sales, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)’s Retail Sales Monitor in conjunction with KPMG.

Key findings were as follows:

  • On a Total basis, sales increased by 1.8% in December, against a growth of 0.2% in December 2019*. It is below the 3-month average growth of 2.5% and above the 12m average decline of 0.3%.
  • UK retail sales increased 4.8% on a Like-for-like basis from December 2019, when they had increased 0.2% from the preceding year*.
  • Over the three months to December, In-Store sales of Non-Food items declined 24.7% on a Total and 14.4% on a Like-for-like basis. For December, the like-for-like excluding temporarily closed stores remained in decline.
  • For 2020 overall, In-Store sales of Non-Food items declined 24.0%, compared with 2019.
  • Over the three months to December, Food sales increased 6.8% on a Like-for-like basis and 7.3% on a Total basis. This is higher than the 12-month Total average growth of 5.4%. For the month of December, Food was in growth year-on-year.
  • Over the three-months to December, Non-Food retail sales increased by 5.1% on a like-for-like basis and declined 1.5% on a Total basis. This is above the 12-month Total average decline of 5.0%. For the month of December, Non-Food was in decline year-on-year.
  • Online Non-Food sales increased by 44.8% in December, against a growth of 6.7% in December 2019*. This is above the 3-mth average of 43.8%.
  • Over 2020, Online Non-Food sales increased by 36.2% compared with 2019.
  • Non-Food Online penetration rate increased from 32.1% in December 2019 to 47.8% this December.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium, said:

“Covid has led to 2020 being the worst year on record for retail sales growth. Physical non-food stores – including all of ‘non-essential’ retail – saw sales drop by a quarter compared with 2019. Christmas offered little respite for these retailers, as many shops were forced to shut during the peak trading period. Though this led to a rise in food-based gifts as many shoppers bought what they could from the shops that were still open.

“With shops still closed for the foreseeable future, costing stores billions in lost sales, many retailers are struggling to survive. To avoid the unnecessary loss of shops and jobs Government should announce an extension to business rates relief for the worst-affected businesses as soon as possible. With many retailers making decisions over their future, the Government must act decisively.”

Read the full report here