Long summer boosts August retail sales

Kasmira Jefford
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UK RETAIL sales continued their strong run in August after the summer heatwave helped sales smash expectations the previous month.

Total sales increased by 3.6 per cent in value last month compared with a year ago, when sales were up 1.6 per cent, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG released this morning.

Like-for-like sales which strip out changes in stores’ floorspace, were up 1.8 per cent from August last year, when they had decreased 0.4 per cent year-on-year.

The strong performance last month comes after retailers enjoyed their best July in six years, with sales up 3.9 per cent as the heat and various sporting events gave consumers an excuse to splash out.

“While these figures don’t quite reach the lofty heights of what was an exceptional July, they’re keeping the good run going and are well above the 12-month average for sales growth,” Helen Dickinson, BRC director general.

Growth came primarily from home categories as sales of furniture and flooring recovered after suffering from some of the worst sales on record last year.

Online sales, which were up 15 per cent, were also a major driver.

Food was the slowest category due to the tough comparatives on last year when the Olympics helped to boost sales of party food.

David McCorquodale, head of retail, KPMG, said: “This is a solid performance by retailers and demonstrates that confidence is slowly but surely returning to the UK’s high streets. Such a retail revival is particularly welcome after the disappointing sales seen last summer, when sales of non-food items ground to a halt as people were distracted by the Olympic Games.”