December 13, 2017

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KPMG Retail Sales Monitor: September sees growth of retail essentials

essentials
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  • In September, UK retail sales increased by 1.9% on a like-for-like basis from September 2016, when they had increased 0.4% from the preceding year.
  • On a total basis, sales rose 2.3% in September, against a growth of 1.3% in September 2016. This is above the 3-month and 12-month averages of 2.1% and 1.7% respectively.
  • Over the three months to September 2017, In-store sales of Non-Food items declined 1.5% on a Total basis and 2.0% on a Like-for-like basis.
  • Over the three months to September, Food sales increased 2.5% on a like-for-like basis and 3.5% on a total basis. This remains above the 12-month Total average growth of 2.9%, the highest 12-month average since August 2013.
  • Over the three-months to September, Non-Food retail sales in the UK increased 0.5% on a like-for-like basis and 0.9% on a total basis, above the 12-month Total average growth of 0.7%.
  • Online sales of Non-Food products grew 10.7% in September, above both the 3-month and 12-month averages of 10.0% and 8.8% respectively. Online penetration rate increased from 21.5% in September 2016 to 22.4% in September 2017, the highest penetration rate since January.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive at the British Retail Consortium said: “September saw a second consecutive month of relatively good sales growth which should indicate welcome news for retailers and the economy alike. Looking beneath the surface though, we see that much of this growth is being driven by price increases filtering through, particularly in food and clothing, which were the highest performing product categories for the month. Retailers have worked hard to keep a lid on price rises following the depreciation of the pound, but with a potent mix of more expensive imports and increasing business costs from various government policies, something had to give at some point.

“From a consumer perspective, spending is still being focussed towards essential purchases; with consumers buying their winter coats and back to school items, but shying away from big ticket items such as furniture and delaying the renewal of key household electrical goods.  Online has been the biggest beneficiary of the resilience in consumer spending capacity in the last two months, sustaining a return to double digit year on year growth figures as shoppers responded well to discounts and the ongoing investment by retailers in improving the mobile shopping experience.

“September’s overall growth may increase the likelihood of an uplift in interest rates in November. So with stronger headwinds brewing, its vital government keep a tight lid on those costs under its control, which impact on retailers, the cost of doing business and ultimately consumers. The Chancellor has a great opportunity to do just that in his upcoming budget by not adding yet another rise on the business rates bill of every retailer in the country.”

Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG UK commented: “September’s performance will have left many retailers with smiles on their faces, with sales up 1.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis, compared to last year.

“Children’s clothing clearly hit the mark as one of the leading categories in the month, whilst the August bank holiday and favourable autumnal weather lent a helping hand to non-food sales. Grocers will also be feeling the warmth having performed particularly well, as food and drink remains in high demand with shoppers – although food price inflation continues to be a key driver of this growth.”

“Non-food online sales continued to soar with double digit growth, outpacing the uptick seen on the high street.

“However, with potential interest rate rises on the horizon, shaky consumer confidence and ever increasing levels of household debt, uncertainty remains. We’re now moving into the final quarter, which will ultimately define whether 2017 has been a good or bad year for retailers.”

Chief executive at IGD Joanne Denney-Finch added: “September was a consistently strong month for food and grocery sales with little variation from week to week. This extends the good run from spring into autumn, albeit driven more by rising prices than volumes.

“After several months of inflation, a growing number of people are taking more time to hunt down value. Just under half (46 per cent) of shoppers now say they usually look for the cheapest products, even if it takes more time, versus 40 per cent in March.”

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