April watch sales slow but remain in growth

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14: A man carries shopping bags on New Bond Street on December 14, 2009 in London, England. High street stores are expecting a bumper Christmas this years despite the economic dowturn, with shoppers spending around GBP £120 million in the past two days alone. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Total watch sales for the four weeks covering April 3- April 30 slowed down but remained in growth for 2016.

According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, the jewellery and watches category was up against a strong comparable in April 2015, when it had been the best performing category.

Despite like-for-like sales being down, total sales for jewellery and watches were up, ranking this industry sector 7th for April 2016.


In general, retail sales fell flat for the second consecutive month. Like-for-like sales were down 0.6%, compared with the same period last year, while total sales were flat at 0%.

Elsewhere, online non-food sales reported a rise of 6.6% in April 2016, a slowdown from March and the slowest growth since April 2013, driving down the three-month and 12-month average growth rates to 8.9% and 11.9% respectively. However, this was set against a strong comparable period, 15.4% in April 2015, the second highest growth rate of 2015.

The report states watches reported a healthy growth online.

British Retail Consortium chief executive officer Helen Dickinson comments: “April saw the second month of flat sales for UK retailers with positive food sales offset by record declines in fashion. As a result, the 12-month average growth for non-food sales slowed to 2.5% while for food sales it nudged back into positive territory at 0.1%.

“Overall, flat total sales mask a very mixed picture; some retailers benefitting from the healthy housing market, while others are evidently more susceptible to the effects of lower consumer confidence and a higher proportion of disposable income going into leisure and entertainment. While glimmers of hope are evident, the rapid pace of change in the industry, increasing cost pressures and other businesses burdens remain a cause for concern.”

The proportion of UK non-food sales purchased online was 20.9% in April, only fractionally down from the highest penetration rate recorded by the monitor, 22.4% in November. This was also the fourth month in a row that the online penetration rate exceeded the 20% threshold, an indicator of how online shopping is now fully integrated in the overall shopping experience.

The unsettled weather was an additional incentive to use the online channel to shop from the comfort of our homes and desks. The flurry of promotional activities also played its part in driving extra online purchases, as illustrated by a greater penetration rate than in March and by an increase in penetration rate of 1.7% year-on-year, the largest year-to-date.

David McCorquodale, head of retail, KPMG adds: “Despite a further slowdown in online sales during April, penetration rates remained high as cleverly timed discounting and promotional activity proved online players were no ‘April fools’.

“With unseasonably cold weather delaying the sales of spring ranges in the month, consumers chose to spruce up well-worn winter warmers with jewellery and accessories from the comfort of the living room rather than hitting the high-street for new outfits. Looking ahead, retailers may well need to bolster online offerings as warmer temperatures start to tempt consumers back into the shops.”

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