UK retail sales decreased one per cent on a like-for-like basis from August 2014, when they had increased 1.3 per cent on the preceding year.
On a total basis, sales were up 0.1 per cent, against a 2.7 per cent rise in August 2014. Adjusted for the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index deflation, total growth was 1.4 per cent.
Non-food sales declined in August, for the first time since August 2014.
The fall of the Bank Holiday into the September period this year distorted the figures of the back-to-school-sensitive categories, with clothing, footwear, stationery, furniture and household appliances experiencing declines.
Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 6.5 per cent in August versus a year earlier, when they had grown 19.8 per cent and established the 2014 best performance.
This was the slowest growth registered since April 2013. The non-food online penetration rate was 17.2 per cent, up from 16.3 per cent in August 2014.
Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said:“While non-food sales over the last three months are up three per cent overall, they were down in August. However the figures were likely distorted by the fact that they do not include the Bank Holiday which will be accounted for in the September period this year. At this time of the year parents are busily shopping for back-to-school essentials like clothes, footwear and stationery and those sales will peak later this year. Large ticket item categories like furniture and household appliances also experienced a decline in sales, again likely affected by the Bank Holiday distortion.
“Retailers will hope to recoup that sales deficit in September and to start feeling the effect of higher real wages.”
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, added: “As the summer bank holiday fell a week later this year, sales were pushed into September meaning top-line trends for August were inevitably dampened (along with the weather) versus 2014.
“Overall, August sales were down one per cent on a like-for-like basis with fashion and footwear hit particularly hard as families delayed back-to-school purchases and wet weather deferred the impetus to shop. Furniture spending also fell due to the timing of the bank holiday.
“The grocers however, fared slightly better, with total food sales showing a positive direction of travel over the three months from June.
“September sales will get a shot in the arm from the bank holiday and the comradery of the Rugby World Cup. However, the fashion world will be hoping that last year’s ‘Indian summer’ does not repeat itself, resulting in heavy discounting to move seasonal items.”
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