Growth of retail sales in Britain slowed down in February due to the extreme weather, but online sales continued its strong growing momentum, said the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on Tuesday.
According to a survey report jointly issued by BRC and KPMG, retail sales in Britain dropped 1 percent year-on-year in February, compared with the 2.7 increase in the same period of last year.
Meanwhile, online sales of non-food products in Britain jumped 14.3 percent in February over a year earlier, with the online penetration rate standing at 17.5 percent in the month, against 15.4 percent in February in the proceeding year.
Online sales contributed 2.1 percentage points to the growth of non-food total sales.
"February saw a hiatus on the high street, with online sales soaring while in store sales stalled. There's no doubt inclement weather exacerbated this trend, but it certainly underscores the importance of having a sophisticated online operation," said David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG.
"There were some bright spots amidst the gloom. The effects of a rapidly recovering housing market are already feeding through to the retail sector, with sales of furniture and home accessories remaining solid," he said.
Home accessories was the top performing category, followed by furniture and flooring which was the greatest contributor to overall growth.
Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said that the robust growth of home accessories "further illustrates the impact of the continued recovery in the housing market on the wider economy."
However, food sales continued to stay relatively flat in February.
"Our sales figures for February show a slower pace of growth in the retail industry than in previous months, underlining that the consumer-led recovery is still developing," Dickinson said.
She said: "Overall sales were pretty flat, which serves as a reminder that recovery is far from certain."
She called for the government to deliver measures for retailers in the forthcoming budget, which is expected to be announced on March 19, to "give shoppers more pounds in their pocket, but more importantly imbue them with the confidence to spend them."