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September retail sales suffer says BRC

Published: 11 October 2018 - Kiran Grewal

In September, UK retail sales decreased by 0.2% on a like-for-like basis from September 2017, when they had increased 1.9% from the preceding year.

On a total basis, sales increased 0.7% in September, against an increase of 2.3% in September 2017. This is the lowest since October, excluding Easter distortions, and below the 3-month and 12-month averages of 1.2% and 1.3% respectively.

Over the three months to September, In-store sales of Non-Food items declined 2.7% on a Total basis and 4.0% on a Like-for-like basis. This is in line with the 12-month Total average decline of 2.7%.

Over the three-months to September, Non-Food retail sales in the UK decreased 1.6% on a like-for-like basis and 0.6% on a Total basis. This is in line with the 12-month Total average decrease of 0.5%. September Non-Food sales remained in decline.

 

However online sales of Non-Food products grew 5.4% in September, against a growth of 10.7% in September 2017, the second-best growth of 2017. This is the lowest growth since January and below the 3-month and 12-month averages of 6.7% and 7.1% respectively. Online penetration rate increased from 22.7% to 24.2% in September 2018.

Chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson OBE said: "These 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.

"The retail industry pays a disproportionate amount of tax. It represents 5% of the economy but pays 10% of business tax and almost 25% of business rates. A tax system skewed towards high taxes on people and property is contributing to stores closures and job losses and is stalling the successful reinvention of our high streets.

"Taxes apply to all businesses, so the answer is not additional taxes solely on the retail industry. The Government urgently needs to reduce the business rates burden and create a tax system fit for the 21st century that more fairly distributes taxes right across the economy."

UK head of retail at KPMG, Paul Martin commented: “Like-for-like retail sales in September were down 0.2% on this time last year, but then last year consumers were remaining more defiant in the face of Brexit and shopping regardless.

“The final golden quarter of the year marks the ultimate test for many players, but retailers must also successfully navigate: the upcoming government Budget, Black Friday, Christmas, and of course Brexit.”

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