Retail sales record weakest growth of the year in September
UK retail sales recorded the weakest growth of the year to date in September with like-for-like sales edging up 0.7% on the same month last year. On a total basis, sales were up 2.4% year-on-year.
Figures released by the British Retail Consortium in the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor show that the growth was driven by electricals and leisure goods, while food saw a decline in like-for-like sales.
Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, explained: "The BRC-KPMG data shows that while total retail sales have continued to grow this month, it has been the weakest growth so far this year if you exclude Easter distortions. Grocery sales have been particularly hard-hit. However, we have seen strong demand for children's footwear and clothing, benefiting from the back-to-school period, and the continued improvement in the UK housing market is beginning to make a difference in the retail sector, shown by a strong performance in home accessories.”
During the month, online sales continued to perform well with sales of non-food products rising by 13.4% year-on-year on weighted basis. In fact, online sales represented 17.5% of total non-food sales in the month which was the highest penetration rate this year. Excluding online sales, clothing and footwear would have shown a decline in sales in September.
Dickinson continued: "Online sales were again the stand out performer, growing by double digits, and contributed strongly to non-food sales such as electricals and leisure items. The launch of our new Online Retail Sales Monitor highlights this, and in fact, without the contribution of online, clothing and footwear sales would have declined in September.
"Retailers are hiring extra staff and readying their offer for the crucial Christmas period at the moment, so they will be looking at these figures closely as they gear up for the festive season."
David McCorquodale, head of retail, KPMG, added: "These figures are a reality check and will make retailers nervous as we enter the run up to Christmas. Unseasonably warm weather stifled sales of autumn and winter collections in September and the recovery in home related items flattened. Consumers are still cautious about spending and are reluctant to restock their wardrobes with winter woollies until the weather cools.
"The stark fact is the retail recovery remains fragile and in the lead up to Christmas retailers, who are generally carrying less stock than in prior years, will need to manage promotional activity carefully to maintain margins."
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