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Retail Sales remain flat in September

The ONS has reported on retail sales for the five-week period 25 August 2019 to 28 September 2019.

In the three months to September 2019, moderate growth in the quantity bought continued at 0.6% when compared with the previous three months, with all sectors within non-food stores reporting declines except “other stores”.

The quantity bought was flat (0.0%) in September 2019 when compared with the previous month, following a fall of 0.3% in August 2019.

The year-on-year growth rate shows that the quantity bought in September 2019 increased by 3.1%, with growth across all sectors except department stores and household goods.

Online sales as a proportion of all retailing was 19.1% in September 2019, compared with 19.5% reported in August 2019.

The ONS head of retail sales, Rhian Murphy, said:

“Retail sales growth remained steady in the latest three months, following strong summer online sales,” “Food shops bounced back after a weak few months, but there was yet more bad news for department stores with sales continuing to fall in September.”

Retail sales collects turnover data from retailers, which are data on money through the till before any deductions, including refunded items.

Commenting on the Office of National Statistics Retail sales figures for September 2019,

PWC Commentary

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said:

“While many will focus on the slight decline in retail sales reported by the ONS in September vs. August, looking behind the headlines, retail sales actually increased by a respectable 3.6% year-on-year excluding petrol.

“Indeed, there has been growth, albeit modest, in every major category of retail, confirming what British consumers told us in our own consumer sentiment survey last month, where, despite an 8 point decline in sentiment since the Spring, we found that consumers were still more optimistic than at any point during the last recession or recovery period.

“But not all retailers have had a bumper month, in particular fashion retailers with colder weather yet to bite. With declining high street footfall and continued Brexit uncertainty weighing on some consumers minds, retailers continue to brace themselves for a tough Christmas.

“Whatever the political and economic outcome, retailers and leisure operators need to hold their nerve, and focus not just on discounting but on continuing to get the basics right.”

Analyst Commentary

Steve Miley, a senior market analyst at, said:

“UK retail sales increased 0.2% month on month in September, a significant increase from the -0.3% decline in August and ahead of the -0.1% decline forecast.

“The data shows that UK consumers remained resilient despite the gloom of Brexit and hit the shops in September. Strong wage growth of 4%, combined with low inflation means that UK households are in a strong position, despite continued Brexit uncertainty. Given the British economy’s heavy dependence on the consumer spending, these figures are encouraging just a fortnight before the UK is due to leave the EU.

“Delving deeper into the figures, food items and essentials rebounded whereas department store sales fell again, highlighting the challenging conditions on the British High Street.

“The pound has responded well to the figures, pushing back over $1.28, impressed that the consumer is still holding up the economy amid a very uncertain environment.”

Source : Insight DIY Team and ONS

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