Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Retail figures slump compared to February, but still up for the year

Published:  24 April, 2015

Retail sale slumped 0.5% last month, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics - but sales are still up 4.2% on the same time last year.      

Retail sale slumped 0.5% last month, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics - but sales are still up 4.2% on the same time last year.   

The fall in this month's figures, which are compared to February, was primarily due to a 6.2% drop in sales at petrol stations, the ONS stated.

Average stores prices decreased as well for the ninth consecutive month, falling 3.1% compared to March 2014. Petrol stations were again the biggest losers, seeing a 12.8% drop in average store prices - the 19th consecutive month of year-on-year decline in prices for those outlets. Combining that drop with the on-going price wars amongst retailers, it is not surprising that average store prices are down.

Positively,year-on-year estimates of quantity bought in retail increased for the 24th consecutive months for March 2015 compared to March 2014, which is the longest sustained year-on-year growth since May 2008.

Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of said the figures were "proof" that low prices are getting consumers to reopen their wallets and driving them back to the tills, but warned that the on-going price wars cannot last forever. 

Challenges for retailers could arise should prices rebound, she said: "While on the surface they paint a positive picture about consumer confidence, there's a risk that they're masking troubled times ahead for the retail sector; price wars can only last for so long before they become unsustainable." 

According to Kantar Worldpanel figures released earlier this month saw like-for-like grocery prices fall another 2% for the 19th consecutive month, which was a new record low. The on-going price deflation only further solidifies that the rate of growth that retailers once saw is now a thing of the past and that market share will be the way forward for retailers.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: "Continued price deflation means there is simply no way that the supermarket sector can return to the average run rate of 4% growth that was the norm before 2014. With minimal industry growth the focus has to turn to the battle for market share."