Retail sales see ‘modest’ growth in August

Retail sales grew by a “modest” 2.9% in August compared with the same month last year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The year-on-year growth rate shows that the quantity bought in August 2019 increased by 2.7%, which the ONS said is a “slowdown” compared with the stronger growth experienced earlier in the year, which peaked at 6.7% in March 2019.

In the three months to August 2019, the ONS reported a 0.6% increase in the quantity bought when compared with the previous three months, with growth in non-store retailing being the main contributor to the increase.

However, online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell to 19.7% in August 2019, from 19.9% reported in July 2019.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “Despite the negative mood music from many in the retail sector, the ONS reported modest retail sales growth of 2.9% for August vs last year, excluding petrol, with both grocery and non-food contributing to growth.

“This seems to confirm that the combination of robust wage growth, muted inflation and improving weather can outweigh some of the other issues facing British consumers.”

She added: “Combined with some deep discounting, particularly amongst clothing retailers keen to clear summer stock, some retailers benefited from shoppers looking for last-minute summer bargains – indeed, fashion was one of the few categories to outperform.”

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