BRC expresses concern as retail sales slump in September

0
Representative iStock image

A leading retailers consortium has expressed concern over falling sale figures as data released by Office for National Statistics (ONS) today (22) showed that retail sales in Great Britain dipped by 0.2 per cent for the fifth month running in September.

The fall in sales marks the worst-ever slump in the UK for high street shops and online sales since modern records began in 1996 though food stores and departmental stores saw a marginal rise. As per latest figures from  Office for National Statistics (ONS), retail sales in September, after an upwardly revised fall of 0.6 per cent in August, despite the removal of most coronavirus restrictions across the UK.

Responding to the latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures, which showed a 0.0 per cent year-on-year sales growth in September (non-seasonally adjusted retail sales excluding fuel), Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “Retailers will be concerned by the slump in sales, just as they begin their preparations for the all-important Christmas period. Fuel shortages, wet weather, and low consumer confidence all contributed to lower consumer demand this month, with household goods, furniture and books all hit particularly hard. 

“Internet sales growth showed its fourth consecutive month of decline as digital businesses struggled to maintain the level of sales seen in 2020, at the height of the pandemic. Nonetheless, internet sales still remain well above pre-pandemic levels as hybrid working made receiving parcels much more convenient than before.

As per latest figures from  Office for National Statistics (ONS), retail sales dipped by 0.2 per cent in September, after an upwardly revised fall of 0.6 per cent in August, despite the removal of most coronavirus restrictions across the UK.

Confounding expectations for a boom in consumer spending fuelled by billions of pounds in household savings built up during lockdown, retail sales volumes have fallen in each month since April.

“For the sake of the UK’s economic recovery, it is vital that retail sales bounce back as we near the festive season. Labour shortages across the supply chains, on farms, factories, warehouses and lorry drivers, all threaten to derail this recovery and it is vital that Government finds a long term solution to this problem. 

“Labour shortages, alongside higher energy, commodity, and transport costs, are all putting pressure on prices, with three in five retailers warning of higher prices before Christmas,” Dickinson said.

The slump in September was said to be driven by  monthly fall in spending in household goods stores selling furniture and lighting. Sales volumes also fell for chemists, toy stores and sports equipment stores.

However, clothing and department stores – among the hardest hit retailers in the pandemic – reported an increase in monthly sales volumes. Food shops also recorded a modest increase in sales.