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Retail struggles persist as UK ends challenging 2023 with weak sales growth

The latest insights from BRC-KPMG reveal a weak sales growth concluding 2023 for the UK retail sector. In December, total retail sales, combining both online and offline transactions, marked a marginal increase of +1.7%, a significant slowdown from the +6.9% growth witnessed in December 2022.

Photo © AlenaKravchenko |

Online sales of non-food items experienced a year-on-year decline, slipping by -0.8% in December. Notably, furniture, previously ranked second among categories for online sales growth in December 2022, plummeted to ninth place out of ten categories.

The cumulative year of 2023 depicted a modest +3.6% increase in total UK retail sales, while non-food sales experienced a marginal decline of -0.1%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, the British Retail Consortium's chief executive, expressed disappointment at the lackluster performance, stating: 'The festive period failed to make amends for a challenging year of sluggish retail sales growth, as weak consumer confidence continued to hold back spending.'

Paul Martin, KPMG's UK head of retail, echoed Dickinson's sentiment. The economic climate, compounded by persistent challenges over the past two years, has instilled caution among consumers. Martin anticipates significant downward pressure on demand in the early months of the year, suggesting a cautious approach from consumers.


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