BRC-KPMG report declares 2020 as the worst year for UK retail


  • The BRC trade body published a report on Tuesday depicting a 0.3 fall in the total retail sales
  • The figures indicate the performance of the retail sector for 2020, which is was declared as the worst year since 1995

The report published British Retail Consortium has stated that 2020 was the worst year for UK retail due to the Covid-19, which paralysed most business activities. Helen Dickinson, CEO of British Retail Consortium, said that 2020 was the worst year on record for retail sales growth. The physical non-food stores, including all of non-essential retail, saw a drop in sales by a quarter compared to the numbers in 2019.

The BRC report today depicted the figures for retail sales for the last year. The report indicated that there was a 0.3 per cent decline in the total sales for the whole of 2020 as compared to the previous year, driven by the 5.0 per cent decrease in the non-food sales. However, the food sales recorded a 5.4 per cent increase in 2020.

Talking about December in particular, retail sales increased by 1.8 per in comparison with the 0.2 per cent growth in December 2019. There was a 4.8 per cent surge in the UK retail sales on a like-for-like basis from December 2019 (December 2018: increase of 0.2 per cent). However, it was still below the three-month average growth of 2.5 per cent but was above the 12-months average decline of 0.3 per cent.

Here are the details of the reports:

Non-Food items

  • The in-store sales of non-food items declined 24.7 per cent on a total basis and 14.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the three months to December. It also witnessed a 42.0 per cent decrease for the whole of 2020 in comparison to 2019.
  • The retail sales of non-food items for three-months to December increased by 5.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis and plummeted 1.5 per cent on a total basis, which was above the 12-month total average decrease of 5.0 per cent. On the year-on-year basis, the non-food items saw a decline in December.
  • A surge of 44.8 per cent was observed in the online sales of non-food items in December (December 2019: growth of 6.7 per cent), which was above the three-month average of 43.8 per cent. For 2020, there was an increase of 36.2 per cent as compared with 2019.
  • The online penetration rate for non-food items increased to 47.8 per cent in December from 32.1 per cent in December 2019.

(Image source: ©Kalkine Group 2020)

Food items

  • There was a 7.3 per cent increase on a total basis and a 6.8 per cent increase on a like-for-like basis for the food sales for the three months ending in December.
  • This was higher than the 12-month total average growth of 5.4 per cent.

Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, said that there was some positive growth in the most important month for the retail industry due to the ongoing shift of expenditure from other sectors such as the travel and leisure industry.

However, further restrictions and closure of many non-essential shops have resulted in a poor performance in December for the high street retailers and conditions will continue to be challenging as another national lockdown has been imposed in the UK, he added.