// Retail sales slow to their weakest performance since January as consumer confidence is hit by fuel shortages & wetter weather
// The latest BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor shows a negative trend heading into the key Christmas trading period
Retailers saw their post-pandemic recovery stall in September as sales slowed to their weakest performance since January when firms were under heavy lockdown restrictions, according to new figures.
The latest BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor shows a negative trend heading into the key Christmas trading period.
On a total basis, sales increased by 0.6 per cent against a growth of 5.6 per cent in September.
This is below the three month average growth of 3.1 per cent and the 12 month average growth of 9.8 per cent.
September is traditionally a good time of the year for UK retailing as it’s back to school month however there are signs that consumer confidence is being hit by fuel shortages.
Commenting on the dip, British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “September saw the slowest retail sales growth since January, when the UK was in lockdown.
“There are signs that consumer confidence is being hit as the fuel shortages, combined with wetter weather, had an impact in the second half of the month.”
She added that the larger purchases, such as furniture and homeware were particularly impacted as people were less likely to venture out in their cars to collect goods.
When it came to non-food sales, online purchases were lower for the month as more people returned to high street stores.
“An uncertain backdrop and slower growth means the fourth quarter is looks challenging as the economic recovery is dependent on strong retail sales during the festive season,” : Dickinson added
“Retailers, farmers and manufacturers are already making preparations to ensure enough food and festive gifts move through the supply chain in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, the lack of drivers is hindering these preparations and increasing costs, which will eventually be reflected in higher prices.
“Retailers are working hard to recruit and train thousands of new British drivers, but in the interim government needs to urgently extend its visa scheme to address the shortfall of 90,000 drivers.
“Without swift action, customers face disruption and frustration this Christmas.”
Looking ahead, Paul Martin UK head of retail at KPMG, says retailers will have to “work very hard” to ensure the right availability of the right product at the right price to satisfy the requirements of an ever more demanding customer’.
He highlighted that this is particularly crucial in the run up to Christmas with staffing pressures and supply chain issues potentially feeding into “limited availability of certain products and the spectre of price rises remains”.
Separate figures from Barclaycard also show that consumer confidence waned in September due to the same factors.
The bank said its latest consumer spending data for September showed that consumers are starting to feel the impact of rising prices on their finances.