UK retail sales increased by 0.6% on a like-for-like basis from January 2017, according to the report.
On a total basis, sales rose 1.4% in January, against a growth of 0.1% in January 2017.
However, over the three months to January, in-store sales of non-food items declined 2.9% on a total basis, and 3.6% on a like-for-like basis. On a 12-month basis, the total decline was 2.3%.
Online sales of non-food products grew 5.3% in January, against a growth of 8.0% in January 2017. Online penetration rate increased from 21.9% in January 2017 to 22.2% in January 2018.
Overall, the latest report shows that over the three-months to January, total non-food retail sales in the UK decreased 1.2% on a like-for-like basis and 0.6% on a total basis. This is below the 12-month total average decrease of 0.1%, the first 12-month average decrease since September 2009.
“The persisting tough trading environment played out at the start of the year with a mixed set of trading updates and subsequent announcements,” said Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of BRC.
“Sales as well as profits are seemingly harder to come by. Against this challenging back-drop, 2018 didn’t have a bad start during what is traditionally a lean month, with sales creeping up in-line with the year’s average.”
Dickinson warned that the going “remains bumpy” as consumers are still seeing wages fall in real terms. “Although inflation will ease a bit this year these pressures will remain,” she said. “So to ensure no more pain is added to household budgets, we want to see our Brexit negotiators focus on delivering the terms of the transition to provide businesses and consumers with some much needed certainty.”
Paul Martin, head of Retail at KPMG, added: “With Christmas reporting now behind us, the true financial health of the industry comes into focus. For many retailers, online sales have taken the sting out of the challenging trading environment.
“It’s therefore not surprising to see many retailers rethink their physical presence. Ensuring you can deliver a customer-centric and channel agnostic proposition will increasingly split the winners from the losers in 2018.”