BRITISH shops received a boost last month as retail sales sprung back to life after a miserable summer on the high street.
Like-for-like sales shot up 1.5 per cent in September compared to the same time last year, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said this morning – the strongest increase so far in 2012.
And total retail sales, which include expansion in shop floor space, jumped by 3.4 per cent last month.
In August the UK’s retail sector was hit by the Olympic Games, with like-for-likes falling 0.4 per cent and total sales rising by just 1.6 per cent – considerably below the annual rate of inflation.
The Olympics distracted consumers “as hearts and minds were captured by sporting triumphs”, said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.
However, shopping has picked up again since the Games ended. “This September’s colder conditions contrast sharply with the heatwave a year ago, giving clothing and footwear sales a major boost as shoppers stock up early on coats, boots and knitwear,” Roberts explained.
Yet sunnier weather at the beginning of the month also contributed to an early improvement in grocery sales, the figures showed.
David McCorquodale of KPMG, which helps compile the data, added: “After a turbulent year on the UK high street, September’s sales figures bring much needed relief for retailers.
“Retailers will now be hoping that the consumer finds some confidence for 2013 to drive sales for the next three months.”
Over the three months to September – a measure intended to iron out monthly volatility – like-for-like sales rose 0.5 per cent compared to the same period in 2011, while total sales were up 2.4 per cent.