Date: Tuesday 04 Sep 2012
UK retail sales values were down by 0.4% on a like-for-like basis in August as compared to 2011, when they were down 0.6% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 1.6%, against a 1.5% rise in August 2011, according to the latest data released today by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG.
The consensus estimate had been for a drop of 0.5% in the value of like-for-like sales.
Excluding the Easter anomaly, these were both the lowest since November 2011, driven by particularly weak non-food sales as the feel-good factor from the Olympics failed to inspire spending.
The most noticeable impact from the Olympics was felt online, which saw growth of just 4.8% in August - the lowest since the Monitor started collecting data on this in October 2008.
Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "(…) Hot weather and the Olympics did help sales of party food and drink but that was more than offset by a really weak performance for non-food goods.
"(…) As summer gives way to the all-important Christmas run-up, retailers will be hoping sales that didn't happen in August have been postponed and not lost entirely."
For her part, Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG, adds: "(…) While, without doubt, the Olympics brought a much needed boost to consumer confidence, the country was 'otherwise engaged' in August and the sales figures show a mixed picture. Those areas of spending which are most discretionary suffered, with women's clothing, furniture, flooring and home related items hit the hardest.
"However, it could have been much worse. August is traditionally a weak month for sales and it's really the next three months that will have a critical impact on retailers' profitability. The challenge remains to accurately forecast outcomes in such a volatile trading environment."
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