Retail sales flat in September


UK retail sales were flat in September compared with the month before, taking sales growth over the last three months to a steady 0.6%, official figures show.

Sales grew by 3.1% in the year to September, a slight improvement on the 2.6% figure for August, with growth across all sectors except department stores and household goods, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Quarterly figures, which strip out monthly volatility, show growth held steady at 0.6%.

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Online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell to 19.1% in September compared with 19.5% the month before.

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.”

Philipp Gutzwiller, head of retail at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The third quarter has been challenging for many retailers, particularly those focused on larger discretionary spend items such as household furnishings and white goods, where families seem to be pausing spending until the horizon is a little clearer.

“But, overall, most retailers are still satisfied with their performance considering the circumstances.

“Despite some gloomy headlines, many businesses are working hard to adapt their offerings to suit changing consumer demands and generally redoubling their efforts to persuade shoppers to part with their cash.”

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “Whatever the political and economic outcome, retailers and leisure operators need to keep their heads held high and hold their nerve, and focus not just on discounting but on continuing to get the basics right.”