Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium:
“A fairly stable rate of online growth has again helped compensate for declines in stores. The online market has now grown to over 20 per cent of total non-food sales, and as a result growth of 8.0 per cent is understandable if not as impressive in previous years and helps explain the lowest 3-month average rate of year-on-year growth since May 2013.
“Digital platforms remain the preference for a savvy shopper to search for the items they want at the best price, and helps explain why clothing and electronics have driven online growth when sales in stores have flagged. A later Mother’s Day this year has distorted the figures for February, since purchases which were made in the final week of February last year will now fall in March’s figures this year. We expect March’s growth to be stronger due to the impact of this distortion and of new video game releases.”
Paul Martin, Head of Retail, KPMG:
“Online retail sales in February provide further contrast to the poor performance noted on the high street. Non-food online sales are up 8% on last year and penetration rates remain stable at 22.2%.
“Interestingly, many of the categories that failed to capture the attention of shoppers in store, did so online – including clothing and footwear. Carefully placed promotions and the shorter wait until pay day in February are likely to have nudged online shoppers to e-checkouts.
“School half-term will also have contributed to online retailer’s stronger performance and notably children’s toys performed particularly well during the month.
“In the run up to the Budget, online retailers will be eager to learn if the Chancellor looks to support the retail sector. The business rate rise has been hotly contested, given the varying impact the proposed changes will have on retailers utilising physical or online retail channels.”