Retail sales bounce back in September
Hopes that the economy could return to growth in the third quarter have been boosted after retail sales in September grew at their fastest pace so far this year.
Figures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG show that like-for-like sales grew by 1.5% in September compared to growth of 2.5% in the same month last year. On a total basis, sales were up 3.4%, against a 2.5% rise in September 2011.
The BRC said the recovery was driven by an improvement in sales of clothing and footwear, which saw its best growth since last Christmas, helped by the cooler weather. There were also some signs of revival in the home and furniture market.
Stephen Robertson, director-general of the BRC, explained: “The improvement has come from the weather and a change in the mindset of some customers.
"This September’s colder conditions contrast sharply with the heatwave a year ago, giving clothing and footwear sales a major boost as shoppers stock up early on coats, boots and knitwear. Children’s clothes and shoes did particularly well in September, partly because many people left back-to-school buying later this year as a result of competition for their time in August."
Online sales increased by 9.9% year-on-year in September, compared to 4.8% in August which was the slowest rate of growth since 2008. However the BRC said the September average remained below where online sales had been trending pre-August but there was some evidence that a greater proportion of website visits resulted in sales.
The figures showed that warmer weather at the beginning of the month helped to drive an early improvement in grocery sales.
David McCorquodale of KPMG said: "After a turbulent year on the UK high street, September’s sales figures bring much needed relief for retailers.
"Retailers will now be hoping that the consumer finds some confidence for 2013 to drive sales for the next three months."
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