Small stores are powering UK retail growth - their sales are up a whopping 8%

Britain’s smaller stores are powering ahead to build growth in the retail sector as the country’s economic recovery continues.

Statistics released today by the Office for National Statistics show that smaller stores experienced significantly higher year-on-year growth than large stores.

The amount spent by consumers in smaller businesses increased by 8.1%, compared with 2.1% in big name chains.

The small non-food shops, such as household goods, clothing and footwear stores provided the main contribution to growth in the amount spent at small stores.

The retail industry as a whole showed growth, with sales in December 2013 some 5.3% from those in December 2012.

The whole year of 2013 saw sales rise by 2.1% compared with 2012.

However, underlying data show weaker growth than indicated by the year-on-year figures. Contractions in quantity of food and petrol purchased offset the growth seen in non-food stores.

In addition, internet sales grew by a remarkable 11.8% in December 2013 compared with December 2012.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: “These retail sales figures are good news and will help offset some concerns that the Christmas shopping period was rather weak. The recovery is gathering momentum and as our recent Quarterly Economic Survey shows, the pace of expansion is likely to strengthen in the near term.

“The government must avoid complacency, and should continue to implement measures to boost growth, particularly while risks to the recovery still linger at home and abroad.”

Dan Wagner, founder and CEO of e-commerce business Powa Technologies said: “The Christmas retail sales figures really highlight how fragile the retail industry is at the moment. We’ve seen a huge shift in consumer buying patterns as the retailers trading statements showed this year’s distinct ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ with a clear shift from the physical stores to the online forum.

“But I predict a fight back from the traditional high street retailers.

“The traditional stores really need to up their game to compete in the new shopping paradigm that we are entering. Customer engagement is the key to survival in 2014. At present, customers who walk through the doors of high street shops are unknown to them. This needs to change fast, customer engagement holds the critical path to growth in fierce market conditions.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Ian Middleton

    These figures from the ONS are total hogwash. No one I've yet spoken to, outside the ivory towers of the bean counters at the ONS, can make any sense out of these results. They're so totally at odds with feedback from people on the retail front line.

    I think it's about time the ONS sharpened up their analyses and sorted out their sampling systems. As a respondent myself I can attest to how archaic and behind the times their sampling methods are. For example you can only respond to them via a torturously long-winded telephone system. When I asked why they said they were "looking into" an online option.

    I wouldn't be surprised if most of these reports are produced by a couple of people using a BBC micro working out of a broom cupboard in a Little Chef in Rhyl.

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