Retail sales flat in September

Retail sales flat in September
Uncertainty around the UK's economy in the lead-up to Brexit continues to take its toll on consumer spending figures.
// ONS’ latest retail sales fairly flat in September – down 0.2% in terms of value & flat (0%) in terms of quantity
// For the last quarter, sales grew 1% in value and 0.6% in quantity
// Year-on-year, sales grew 3.4% by value and 3.1% by quantity

UK retail sales were fairly flat in September compared with the month before, as uncertainty around the UK’s economy in the lead-up to Brexit continues to take its toll.

According the latest Retail Sales Index from the ONS, September retail sales fell a marginal 0.2 per cent compared to August in terms of the amount spent, while the month-on-month figure was flat in terms of the quantity bought.

On a quarterly basis – which strips out monthly volatility – sales by value grew one per cent growth, or 0.6 per cent in terms of quantity bought.


On a year-on-year basis, the figures were rosier.

Sales by quantity grew by 3.1 per cent in the year to September, a slight improvement on the 2.7 per cent figure recorded in August.

Meanwhile, sales by value experienced an uptick of 3.4 per cent in September, which was on par with the 3.4 growth recorded in August.

The ONS said that throughout September, there was growth across all sectors except department stores and household goods.

Meanwhile, online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell slightly to 19.1 per cent in September compared with 19.5 per cent in August.

“Retail sales growth remained steady in the latest three months, following strong summer online sales,” ONS head of retail sales Rhian Murphy said.

“Food shops bounced back after a weak few months, but there was yet more bad news for department stores with sales continuing to fall in September.”

Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking head of retail Philipp Gutzwiller said: “The third quarter has been challenging for many retailers, particularly those focused on larger discretionary spend items such as household furnishings and white goods, where families seem to be pausing spending until the horizon is a little clearer.

“But, overall, most retailers are still satisfied with their performance considering the circumstances.

“Despite some gloomy headlines, many businesses are working hard to adapt their offerings to suit changing consumer demands and generally redoubling their efforts to persuade shoppers to part with their cash.”

PwC consumer markets leader Lisa Hooker said: “Whatever the political and economic outcome, retailers and leisure operators need to keep their heads held high and hold their nerve, and focus not just on discounting but on continuing to get the basics right.”

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