There was good news for the high street after retail sales surged in September, boosted by the late August bank holiday weekend and beer sales related to the Rugby World Cup.
Retail sales volumes jumped by 1.9 per cent on the month, smashing economist expectations of a 0.3 per cent rise, the Office for National Statistics said.
Sales volumes in the year to September were also up an impressive 6.5 per cent and by 2.7 per cent in retail spending value, helped by the inclusion of the last August bank holiday in the data and families completing their back to school shopping.
The Rugby World Cup also helped bring some cheer to retailers despite England’s exit, with food and drink sales increasing by 2.3 per cent month-on-month.
There was also a strong performance online with September seeing the fastest annual rate of growth since January, up 15.2 per cent, and paving the way for another record Black Friday, which is just one month away.
IHS Global Insight’s chief UK and European economist Howard Archer, said retailers will be hoping that that September sales performance bodes well for the trading in the crucial Christmas period, when they make the lion’s share of their profits.
“The fourth quarter is of vital importance to retailers, and it will be interesting to see how aggressive they are in their discounting this year in the run-up to Christmas,” he said.
Recent BRC and Springboard data showed that footfall also improved in September, down just 0.2 per cent after a miserable and wet August, when visitor numbers were down by 1.6 per cent.
Deloitte's head of consumer business research Ben Perkins, said: "Today’s figures further support our view that consumer confidence is growing. Customers are spending more and saving less on account of high wages and improved job security, leading to an increase in sales year-on-year of 2.7 per cent. Retailers should benefit from the convergence of these factors."