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Market Commentary

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Weekly Retail & Leisure News - 01 February​​, 2016​​​​

Weak January sales despite positive macro picture

The UK economy grew by 0.5% in the three months to the end of December, taking the annual rate of growth for 2015 to 2.2%. Output in the three months to December was 1.9% higher than a year earlier, down from the 2.1% increase in the third quarter. Despite the annual pace of growth being the slowest for three years, it still means the UK economy is one of the fastest growing amongst developed nations. In further positive news, the GfK Consumer Confidence Index increased to +4 in January, three points ahead of this time last year, driven by the improving economy, low fuel prices and deflation.

Despite these positive macro indicators, a survey by the CBI suggests that retailers are set to experience the weakest start to a year since 2013 after the mild weather hit sales of winter clothing in January. The CBI said sales volumes at clothing stores fell in the year to January, following nine consecutive months of growth, while furniture and carpet stores also experienced a dip in sales. Supermarkets and other grocery stores bucked the trend and saw steady growth. Overall, in the poll of 126 companies, 41% of retailers said sales volumes rose in January compared with a year ago, while 25% said that volumes were down.

In other news, a number of retailers announced positive trading figures this week. In the 10 weeks to January 9, Dixons Carphone's LFLs rose 5% for the UK and Ireland. The company also announced it would merge the remaining PC World and Currys units and insert a Carphone Warehouse offer within them. This will reduce store numbers by 134 but is likely to have an anticipated neutral or better impact on sales and staff numbers. Additionally Bargain Booze, Card Factory, Carpetright, Hackett, John Lewis, Jimmy Choo and Pretty Green all announced positive figures.

Please click here for a round-up of UK retailer and leisure operator Christmas Trading results

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