Before 2014 gets well and truly underway let’s take stock of last year’s most lucrative retail sales period.

We were all very excited in the run up to Christmas 2013, as reports of economic recovery helped fuel retail optimism, but what actually happened?

According to the latest report from the British Retail Consortium it presented a mixed bag for many retailers.

December 2013 retail sales were up 0.4% on a like-for-like basis from the previous year December 2012, when they had increased 0.3% on the preceding year. Overall, total sales were up 1.8%, against a 1.5% increase in December 2012, marking the lowest growth of 2013.

The real success story was online with figures revealing that December online growth was the strongest last year and the best since March 2010.

Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 19.2% in December when compared to the previous year.

Among the winners were House of Fraser which recorded its best Christmas trading period fuelled by a 57.7% surge in online sales. Next online sales also rose by 21%.

Click and collect also fared well with John Lewis reporting ‘click-and-collect’ orders up more than 60% compared with last year.

Among those retailers that did well were those that held their nerve and didn’t discount too heavily or too early. And of course, multichannel retailers were the biggest winners. Online is pivotal to success and those who embraced all channels of retail, social, click and collect and e commerce in a ‘joined up’ approach reaped the rewards.

So, what can we take from this? The major factor is that we are all buying online, which is driven by mobile devices and so having an all-encompassing offering which ticks the boxes for all customers – no matter how, when and where they like to make a purchase – is the key to success for 2014.

Adam Tregaskis