Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said:
“For the first time since last spring, we saw total monthly sales decline and even the ongoing demand for groceries and home-related categories was not enough to halt the fall. Although online channels continued to experience historic growth with more than 60% of all non-food sales transacted online, the lockdown meant that the traditional January sales period did not really materialise for the rest of the retail sector, with just a handful of categories recording any growth.
"Computing was the hot category and saw triple figure growth online as schools closed and parents rushed to purchase laptops and printers. Meanwhile, clothing retailers continued to struggle with physical sales down across all categories.
"With much of the UK in lockdown for the foreseeable weeks, conditions for retailers will continue to be incredibly challenging. On the one side dealing with a continued increase in online demand versus subdued demand on the high street - and overall in many cases, thinner margins and rising logistics costs and complexities post Brexit. Consumers are well versed in lockdown living now, and looking ahead, fortunes will be mixed but pent up savings and a successful vaccine roll out should help to support recovery in the retail sector later in the year.”