UK retail sales fall by 0.6% in January

In January, UK retail sales declined by 0.6% on a like-for-like basis from January 2016, which were 2.6% higher than the preceding year, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Sales rose 0.1% in January, against a 3.3% increase in January 2016, which was below the three-month average of 1.1% and 12-month average of 0.9%.

Over the three months to January, food sales rose 0.6% on a like-for-like basis and 2% on a total basis, ahead of the 12-month total average growth of 1%.

This was the second consecutive three-month average total growth of 2% or above.

Over the three months to January, non-food retail sales in the UK rose 0.2% on a like-for-like basis and 0.3% on a total basis. This was below the 12-month average growth of 0.8%, which is the lowest since July 2012.

Over the three months to January, online sales grew 8.6% while in-store sales declined 2.2% on a total basis and 2.4% on a like-for-like basis.

BRC Helen Dickinson chief executive said: "After a strong end to the Christmas trading, year on year sales growth ground to a halt, compensated only by stronger furniture sales and a boost for some retailers from Chinese New Year.

"While this may appear disappointing overall, retailers were up against a strong January last year to try and deliver a repeat performance and many reported an increase in the number of returns received in January.

"Looking across the last three months, we've seen the slowest growth of the festive period since 2009.

"Closer inspection reveals that this was driven by slowing sales in non-food sectors.

"These figures suggest that 'caution' was top of new year shopping lists and the uptick in credit card lending at the end of the last year may be short lived.

"With the signs pointing to upward pressures on shop prices given rising import costs, all eyes will be on the impact of inflation on consumer spending."