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Colder, wetter weather hit September retail sales

14
Oct '08
UK retail sales values fell 1.5% on a like-for-like basis, from September 2007, when they had risen 3.0%. Sales have now been lower than a year ago in six of the past seven months, the worst since summer 2005.

Colder, wetter weather than last September hit sales but some sunny weekends helped end-of-season clearances of summer lines.

As in August, Clothing and footwear remained poor. Furniture and homewares were well down on a year ago, despite continued discounts and promotions.

Turmoil in financial markets hit consumer confidence while increasing demands on household budgets meant shoppers looked for value and discounts and planned spending carefully, both for food and non-food items. Housing market weakness continued to hit big-ticket homewares.

Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said:
“The financial turmoil has further undermined consumer confidence with like-for-like sales now down in six of the last of seven months. Furniture retailers suffered their worst performance for at least eight years. Impulse buying is disappearing as people consider purchases carefully and actively seek out promotions. If you're after a bargain it's great news as shops have responded with some of the most dramatic discounts and offers in recent times.

“Retailers will be hoping customers are willing and able to spend for Christmas as an antidote to the current gloom.”

Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG, said:
“Despite the ongoing turmoil in global and the UK financial markets and the doom and gloom headlines, UK retail is not in freefall. The UK consumer is still spending and total retail sales were up in September on the same period a year ago. However, the trend continues in a downward direction - the growth in total sales is marginal at 1% and at like-for-like level there is a decline, which has been the case for six of the last seven months.

Inflation is behind much of the growth in food, and this is the main driver of overall performance. The non-food sectors continue to suffer, with all apart from footwear showing like-for-like falls in the month. The key question now is not what has happened but what will be the impact of the current environment on sales over the crucial Christmas trading period - many will be holding their breath.”

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British Retail Consortium


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