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High Street

Retail sales ‘flatline’ as discounting and poor footfall ‘hit hard’

Retail sales “flatlined” in August according to the BRC-KPMG sales monitor, as summer discounting and “poor” footfall hitting in-store sales “particularly hard”.

On a total basis, sales were found to be flat in August, against an increase of 1.3% in August 2018. This is above the 3-month average of -0.4% but below the 12-month average of 0.4%. This is the lowest 12-month average on record.

The monitor also found that UK retail sales decreased by 0.5% on a like-for-like basis from August 2018, when they had increased 0.2% from the preceding year.

Over the three months to August, in-store sales of non-food items declined 3% on a total and like-for-like basis. This is found to be worse than the 12-month total average decline of 2.6%.

Additionally, food sales decreased 0.3% on a Like-for-like basis and increased 0.5% on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 1.7%. Non-food retail sales in the UK decreased by 1.2% on a like-for-like and total basis. This is below the 12-month total average decrease of 0.7%.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Retail sales flatlined in August with the 12-month average dropping to a new low of just 0.4%. Greater economic and political uncertainty has driven down consumer demand. While the summer weather gave a small boost to food sales, this was cancelled out by a drop in non-food sales.

“Summer discounting and poor footfall have hit in-store sales particularly hard. If the Government wants to avoid seeing further store closures and job losses on the UK high street, they must take action.”

She added: “Last month, 50 retail CEOs wrote to the chancellor demanding he fix the broken business rates system, allowing businesses to fund vital investment during this unprecedented period of transformation.”

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