Tuesday 3 September 2019 12:01 am

Retailers warned to ramp up contingency plans as sales growth slumps

Retailers were warned to prepare for further political and economic turbulence as like-for-like retail sales growth dipped last month in the latest blow for the UK high street. 

Bricks and mortar sales, not including food products, decreased by 0.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis from August last year. 

Read more: Retail sales get surprise boost in July from stay at home shoppers

In the three months to August in-store sales declined three per cent, below the 12-month total average decline of 2.6 per cent. 

On a total basis, sales were flat against an increase of 1.3 per cent in August last year, according to figures published today by the British Retail Consortium and accountancy firm KPMG.  

“With a budgetary spending review, the Brexit crunch point looming and potentially a general election on the cards, it’s clear that the only thing that is certain in the coming months is further uncertainty,” Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said. 

“It’s vital that retailers insulate themselves for every eventuality and have rigorous contingency plans in place.” 

Online sales of non-food products grew 2.2 per cent last month, weakening from growth of 7.5 per cent in August 2018, showing that the e-commerce sector has “slowed down drastically.” 

Grocery sales returned to positive growth in August as shoppers prepared for the bank holiday heatwave. 

 Spending in pubs and restaurants was also bolstered by the hot weather. 

Data from Barclaycard showed that non-essential spending rose by 1.4 per cent driven by 10.9 per cent growth from pubs and 8.6 per cent from restaurants. 

Read more: Retail sales decline for longest stretch in eight years

Spending in discount stores also grew by eight per cent as more customers hunted for bargains. Research showed that 52 per cent of UK adults are worried about the impact of rising prices over the next month. 

“A weak pound and worries about rising prices are causing concern for many, with Brits looking to better balance their household budgets,” Esme Harwood, director at Barclaycard, said.

Main image credit: Getty