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Retail sales up in September


Retail sales volumes in the UK rose 0.6 per cent last month compared to a month earlier as consumers returned to the high street after a slow Olympic trading period, figures released today reveal.

Retail sales volumes increased 2.5 per cent compared to the same month a year earlier while retail sales values grew 3.2 per cent year-on-year in September, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Annual store price inflation increased to 0.7 per cent while, on a monthly basis, the price of goods rose 1.3 per cent as a result of price increases across textiles and clothing & footwear.

Clothing sales jumped two per cent on the previous month while computer and telecomms sales were boosted by the arrival of the long-awaited iPhone 5 as sales rose 7.6 per cent month-on-month.

Average weekly spend rose 1.53 per cent compared with August and by 3.1 per cent compared with September 2011 to £6.6 billion showing an improvement in consumer finances.

However, Samuel Tombs, UK Economist at Capital Economics, pointed out that the outlook for spending has darkened over the next month despite growth as utility price hikes and stunted employment are expected imminently.

“Some of this growth seems to have reflected temporary factors, not least a recovery from the Olympics-related drop in spending in August.

“The autumnal weather and delayed back-to-school spending probably also accounted for some of the two per cent monthly rise in clothing sales volumes.

“What’s more, the outlook for spending in the run-up to Christmas does not look particularly encouraging.

“The low level of consumer confidence continues to point on the basis of past form to renewed falls in retail sales volumes.

“So a sustained recovery in retail spending still seems unlikely to get underway soon.”

However, it appears that multichannel offerings continue to prove popular with tech-savvy shoppers as online weekly spend reached £507.8 million in the month, a 9.4 per cent increase compared with a year earlier causing the amount spent online to account for 8.8 per cent of all retail spend over the period.

Angus McCarey, UK Retail Director for eBay, explained that using technology and creating a digital identity is crucial to retailers’ success.

“Today’s figures show that it continues to be a challenging time for retailers,” he said.

“However, technology is changing the way consumers shop and has the potential to provide a valuable lifeline to the retail sector.

“eBay research shows that UK retailers could be missing out on up to £860m by failing to harness the potential of technologies such as interactive TV, augmented reality and in-store technologies to deliver an enhanced shopping experience.

“Previously, consumers viewed online and offline shopping as distinct, but that’s no longer the case. Today they don’t see a channel, but a brand.

“Retailers who embrace these technologies to deliver an integrated and seamless multi-channel shopping experience will be the ones who survive, and ultimately, thrive.”

Published on Thursday 18 October by Editorial Assistant

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