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Retail sales defy 'relentlessly tough times' with 1.5% rise in September Tuesday, 9th October 2012
Photo credit: My Retail Media
UK retail sales rose 1.5 per cent for September, as the BRC- KPMG Retail Sales Monitor found strong results in clothing and footwear category brought an end to a weaker-than-expected summer.
Sales were up 1.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis from September 2011, when they rose just 0.3 per cent from the previous year. On a total basis, sales rose 3.4 per cent against a 2.5 per cent rise a year ago. Online sales improved from August’s record low ending, although even at 9.9 per cent, September’s growth was still behind the year’s average.
“After a poor summer for sales, this is a return to growth rates we’ve come to regard as relatively acceptable in these relentlessly tough times.” Stephen Robertson director general of the British Retail Consortium said.
“The improvement has come from the weather and a change in the mindset of some customers. This September’s colder conditions contrast sharply with the heatwave a year ago, giving clothing and footwear sales a major boost as shoppers stock up early on coats, boots and knitwear. Children’s clothes and shoes did particularly well in September, partly because many people left back-to-school buying later this year as a result of competition for their time in August.”
“The on-going challenges in the housing market contributed to sales of home accessories falling at their fastest for three years - but there are signs that people are acclimatising to the new realities. Difficult has become the new norm. Customers are still cautious but less fearful than they were. The squeeze on disposable incomes has eased for some and, along with lots of discounts, left them feeling it’s time to stop postponing spending.”
After 2011’s Indian Summer wreaked havoc with seasonal apparel purchases, clothing sales were able to improve on last year’s soft comparables as the cold weather set in for the end of September.
Food sales from July to September rose 3.5 per cent from the same period a year before, although as Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive at IGD pointed out, shoppers had been on an ‘optimism rollercoaster’ in 2012, with food companies holding out for colder weather in autumn to suit Halloween and Bonfire Night sales.
Department store sales started slow but saw a strong finish for September, with mid-season sales generating high levels of footfall and growth across all categories.
“With the rent paid for the last quarter before Christmas and most seasonal orders now made, the bets for the final quarter have been placed.” David McCorquodale, head of retail, KPMG said.
“Retailers will now be hoping that the consumer finds some confidence for 2013 to drive sales for the next three months. If that doesn’t happen there’s a real risk that the retailers will be forced to discount their seasonal margins away.”