September sales suffer post-summer slump
Written by Peter Walker
In September, UK retail sales decreased by 0.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis from September 2017, when they had increased 1.9 per cent from the preceding year.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG figures for the five weeks from 26 August to 29 September, showed that on a total basis, sales increased 0.7 per cent in September, against an increase of 2.3 per cent in September 2017.
This is the lowest since last October, excluding Easter distortions, and below the three-month and 12-month averages of 1.2 and 1.3 per cent respectively.
Over the three months to September, in-store sales of non-food items declined 2.7 per cent on a total basis and 4 per cent on a like-for-like basis. This is in line with the 12-month total average decline of 2.7 per cent.
Online sales of non-food products grew 5.4 per cent in September, against a growth of 10.7 per cent in September 2017 – the second-best growth of last year. This is the lowest growth since January and below the three-month and 12-month averages of 6.7 and 7.1 per cent respectively.
Online penetration rate increased from 22.7 to 24.2 per cent last month.
Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive said the figures lay bare the difficult operating environment for the retail industry. “After a challenging August, constrained consumer spending in September has resulted in the weakest sales growth for five months.”
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, explained that grocery stores continued to perform, but growth in the category retreated in September.
“The non-food categories however, continued to disappoint. The historically reliable back-to-school push did not elevate apparel sales; instead the latest tech launches were a rare source for optimism.
“Online retail continued to fare better,” he continued, adding: “Even clothing sales managed to grab the attention of those browsing the web to refresh their wardrobe.”