Like For Like (Comparative) Sales Analysis (Flag Method)


    “Like for Like” or “Comparative” sales analysis is a common requirement in the Retail sector.  The objective is to assess growth from the underlying “business” by comparing the business on a “like-for-like” basis with the business in the previous period.

    The comparable basis can be manifold and will depend upon the business analysis requirement:


    Comparable basis



    Like for Like Store Sales

    Multi-site retail

    This compares the stores open in the current period with the same stores in the previous period

    Like for Like Brand Sales

    Property management

    Shopping centre

    this compares the sales from the same brands in the current period with the same brands in the previous period


    Methodology – Transaction Flags

    The conceptual basis of the “like-for-like” analysis is to identify or “flag” the transactions that are relevant for the comparison (i.e. are comparable sales).  This simple approach has significant benefits

    • Easily validated in the data table
    • Simple to express in expressions
    • Low RAM usage in the application


    Flagging Transactions

    Taking the example of the Like for like store sales, where the requirement is that the store was “open(1)” in the both "periods"(2), we can take the following logical approach:


    Calculate two Like For Like Flags

    1. Flag TY - Identify those transactions in the previous year which are comparable to the current year (TY); AND
    2. Flag LY - identify those transactions in the current year which are comparable to the previous year (LY).


    Image 1: Illustrative example of Like-For-Like Flag Method


    The methodology can be applied to create any like-for-like analysis and with the use of set analysis can be dynamic in the application.


    The analytical result of this is

    • Sales growth of 18% (659 / 557 - 1); but
    • Like-for-Like sales growth of 32% (387 / 512 -1)



    (1) "Open" - can be defined in many ways.  In this example it is that the store had sales in the comparable period.

    (2) "Period" - this will require careful definition.  The period could be the same "week" last year or on the same calendar date.  Where the company uses the 52 week retail calendar (4-5-4) there will be a week 53 every 7 years!

    Explore & Enjoy,

    Nick Scott.