UK retail sales up 1.3% in August
Like-for-like retail sales rose by 1.3% year-on-year in the UK in August as the launch of autumn fashion collections, cooler weather and the return to school drove clothing and footwear sales.
The figures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG in their monthly sales monitor show that total sales increased by 2.7% to mark the best performance since January, excluding Easter distortions.
While the clothing and footwear category reported its fastest growth since December 2011, food was the worst performing category with a new record low three-month average decline.
Over the last three months, food showed a decline of 1.6% compared to the 0.1% growth seen over the last 12 months. Non-food reported growth of 3.9% in the three month period, in line with its 12-month average.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Retailers have pointed to the successful launch of their autumn fashion collections helped by the cooler weather, as well as a good response to marketing campaigns for back to school clothing. Furniture sales also did well as the strength of the housing market continues although not as well as in July.
“On the other hand consumers are still taking advantage of record low food inflation. The strength of the economy is not yet consistent across all areas of the country and shop prices fell in August. For retailers the challenge in these circumstances is to ensure continued investment in digital innovation, the physical retail space and job creation.”
Meanwhile, online sales of non-food products in the UK grew by 19.8% year-on-year in August, which was the highest online growth since the BRC began compiling its records. The non-food online penetration rate was 16.5% in August, 1.7 percentage point higher than in August 2013.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “The summer has been a good test of retailers’ online capabilities and many have used this to refine their systems before we enter the autumn/winter trading period. The continued growth of online sales reflects these successes.
“This has been time well spent. Those with a truly seamless multichannel operation will be the winners this Christmas, and those with less than perfect systems will see their flaws exposed as the sheer volume of customer orders will test their operation to the limit.”
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