Brexit concerns lead to slump in retail spending in September

Concerns over a no-deal Brexit led to a decrease in consumer spending in September, according to new figures from the BRC.

On a total basis, sales decreased by 1.3% in the five weeks to 28 September 2019, against an increase of 0.7% during the same period last year.

This is below the three-month average decline of 0.4% and the 12-month average growth of 0.2%, a new record low. The BRC said it is also the “worst September” since its records began in 1995.

During the month, retail sales also decreased by 1.7% on a like-for-like basis from September 2018, when it had decreased 0.2% from the preceding year. The BRC said this is worse than both the three-month and 12-month averages of -0.8% and -0.4% respectively.

Online sales of non-food products grew 0.7% in September, the “worst ever recorded” according to the BRC. It was against a growth of 5.4% in September 2018, and the three-month and 12-month average growths were 2.1% and 3.8% respectively.

CEO of the BRC, Helen Dickinson, said: “With the spectre of a no-deal weighing increasingly on consumer purchasing decisions, it is no surprise that sales growth has once again fallen into the red.

“Many consumers held off from non-essential purchases, or shopped around for the bigger discounts, while the new autumn clothing ranges suffered from the warmer September weather.”

She added: “The longer-term prospect continues to be bleak, with the 12-month average once again plumbing new depths at a mere 0.2 per cent. Online non-food sales growth was the lowest on record, though still compared favourably to the decline in growth at physical stores.”

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