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UK sales receive Valentine’s Day boost despite inflation

The recent BRC-KPMG analysis shows an increase of 5.2% in February but the figures remain lower than last year

February retail sales have benefited from Valentine’s Day but numbers remain low compared to last year, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) survey. 

The analysis, which was monitored by BRC and the consultancy KPMG, shows that UK total retail sales increased by 5.2% in February, against an increase of 6.7% in February 2022. But BRC warns that these figures are not adjusted for inflation, meaning that the rise in sales masks a much larger drop in volumes.

Helen Dickinson, BRC’s chief executive, said: “While the cost-of-living crisis has made customers increasingly price sensitive, they are still ready to celebrate special occasions. This helped deliver strong sales of fragrance and jewellery for Valentine’s Day.”

Food sales have reportedly been on the rise too with an 8.3% increase over the three months to February, while non-food sales increased by 3.2%.

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Despite the recent improvements, Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, believes that consumers continue to hold back on non-essential items amid the concerns surrounding recent energy prices and upcoming tax rises. 

He said: “With increases in energy, broadband, mobile phone and council tax bills on the horizon, consumers will continue to take steps to reduce spending where they can – switching where they shop, what they buy, whilst also cutting back on activities, such as eating out and takeaways.

“The outlook will continue to be challenging with falling consumer spending in real terms and as more people choose to shop by ‘occasion’, retailers will be pulling out the stops for a buoyant Easter and Mothers’ Day.”

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