Retail sales have fallen by 1% on a like for like basis in August, compared to the same period last year. Most of the blame has fallen on the August weather and this year’s late bank holiday.
According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, total sales crept up by just 0.1%, compared to a 2.7% rise in August 2014. However, the figures were harmed by the August bank holiday which this year fell in the September reporting period. This distorted the August figures, which rely heavily on certain groups every bank holiday, such as ‘back to school’ shoppers. This drop in annual patronage was compounded by the dismal August weather.
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail at KPMG, said: “As the summer bank holiday fell a week later this year, sales were pushed into September, meaning top-line trends for August were inevitably dampened (along with the weather) versus 2014.”
Categories such as clothing and footwear are both highly reliant on ‘back to school’ shoppers, and both experienced declines. McCorquodale explained that as “families delayed back to school purchases and wet weather deferred the impetus to shop,” these categories were bound to suffer.
Only men’s footwear saw growth. Menswear also outperformed womenswear and kidswear.
Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew by 6.5% year on year in August, and the proportion of clothing sales made online increased by 2.2 percentage points, reaching 24.8% overall. At the same time, UK retail sales across all channels fell by 1%. By contrast, last August online sales of non-food products grew by 19.8% and all sales by 1.3%.
Director General of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said: “…parents are busily shopping for back-to-school essentials like clothes, footwear and stationery and those sales will peak later this year. Retailers will hope to recoup that sales deficit in September and to start feeling the effect of higher real wages.”
McCorquodale gave a sunny prediction for September, estimating that “sales will get a shot in the arm from the bank holiday and the comradery of the Rugby World Cup. However, the fashion world will be hoping that last year’s Indian summer does not repeat itself, resulting in heavy discounting to move seasonal items.”