British retail sales jumped 3.3 percent in August compared with the same month a year earlier as shoppers maintained their strong summer spending spree.
In monthly terms, sales rose by 0.3 percent in August from July, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, with increases across all sectors except food, clothing and petrol.
The month-on-month growth rate in the quantity bought in food stores at negative 0.6 percent and clothing stores at negative 1.9 percent was offset by strong growth in other non-food stores at 2.8 percent and household goods stores at 4.5 percent.
“The figures for the month of August were a little more mixed, with food sales falling after strong sales earlier in the summer and clothing sales declining following a strong July, as suggested by clothing retailers,” said Rhian Murphy, senior statistician at the ONS.
The last three months of summer from June to August 2018 saw an increase in the quantity bought at 3.4 percent, with food and household goods stores doing well in the warm weather when compared with the previous summer, while non-store retailing continued to show strong growth.
When compared with the previous three months, sales saw an increase of 2 percent in the same period, with continued growth across all sectors.
“Retailers are finding the market difficult to read. They are also finding it difficult to plan. Many will face working capital pressures over the next few months as they stock up for the all-important Christmas shopping period,” commented Andrew Westbrook, head of retail at audit, tax and consulting firm RSM.
“Yesterday’s rise in inflation, which came as something of a shock, has narrowed the gap with wage growth and could suppress consumer confidence and discretionary spending even further. Add to that wider concerns around high levels of household debt and the prospect of more rate rises, the outlook remains very challenging for retailers,” Westbrook added.