Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, said:

“After a bleak January sales performance and as the national lockdown continued, February saw the mildest of upturns for the retail sector, with just 1% year on year growth as high street stores across the country kept their doors closed. 

Consumers continued to nest down for further weeks at home, with food and drink, technology, furniture and home accessories recording strong growth both online and on the high street. Online channels recorded strong sales across all categories, with some even registering triple figure growth, whilst high street clothing and health and beauty categories continue to suffer, with sales falling by double figures.

With the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown in place and the vaccine rollout moving at pace, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for non-essential retailers. High streets will be counting down the weeks until they can finally open their doors and hoping consumers swap their slippers for trainers as they start to hit the shops. Although the Budget threw retailers a short term lifeline with the extension of Covid support packages until after the summer, conditions will continue to be incredibly challenging as they face subdued demand, thinner margins and rising logistics costs, alongside the accelerated structural changes to the sector. All hopes will be pinned on consumers wanting to break free from home to browse the stores that have been out of bounds for months.”