UK like-for-like retail sales down 2.1% in September
Like-for-like retail sales were down 2.1% year-on-year in the UK in September as the months unseasonably warm weather melted sales of autumn clothing and footwear.
The figures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG in their monthly sales monitor show that total sales edged down 0.8% to mark the weakest performance since December 2008 excluding Easter distortions.
Clothing and footwear were the worst performing categories in the month, reporting record declines since April 2012 and March 2013 respectively.
Over the last three months, food showed a decline of 1.7% and reported its first twelve-month average decline in at least five years, at -0.2%.
Meanwhile, non-food reported growth of 3% over the three months to September, underperforming its twelve-month average of 3.6%. However, the BRC said there were encouraging signs for retailers as the build up to Christmas begins, with toys and beauty products both selling well.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “In September we saw the lowest retail sales figures since December 2008 excluding Easter distortions. This can be attributed to a number of factors including the continuing decline in food sales. Furthermore, there was exceptionally low demand for items such as boots and coats, resulting in the lowest fashion sales performance since April 2012. However, demand for big ticket items continues to be strong with furniture outperforming all other categories.”
Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew by 8.2% in September versus a year earlier - this was the lowest online growth since August 2013. The non-food online penetration rate was 17.5% in September, 1.3 percentage point higher than in September 2013.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “The warm weather also melted sales of clothing and footwear online as shoppers chose to dig out their summer wardrobe rather than investing in new winter woollies. As the weather cools and people start planning for Christmas this trend should quickly reverse.
“We have seen heavy investment from retailers in their online systems this month as many have spent the summer testing and refining their online operations ready for the all-important run up to Christmas. As the orders begin rolling in, these investments will quickly pay dividends.”
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