High street sales in August continued their weak trend, the latest retail monitor from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG shows.
On a total basis, sales increased by 1.3% in August, below both the three-month trend of 1.8% and the 12-month average of 1.5%. The figures were almost half the 2.4% rise for the same month last year.
Over the three months to August, non-food retail sales in the UK decreased 1% on a like-for-like basis, but increased 0.1% on a total basis. This is higher than the 12-month total average decrease of 0.4%. August non-food sales remained in decline.
Online sales of non-food products grew 7.5% in August, against a growth of 11.0% in August 2017. This is below the three-month average of 7.9% and in line with the 12-month average of 7.6%. Online penetration rate increased from 21.4% in August 2017 to 23.2% in August 2018.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The trend of weak retail sales growth in 2018 showed little sign of abating as the summer came to a close this August. The continued pressure on people’s disposable income has meant that some shoppers are increasingly less able to spend on the more discretionary non-food items such as clothing and footwear.
“And it’s not only shoppers who are feeling the pinch. Retailers are under significant pressure with rising costs contributing to a difficult trading environment.
”The disproportionate burden of business rates is not helping matters. The government must show more urgency of action and freeze rates for a two-year period to allow for a comprehensive reform of the system in order to avoid further yet more store closures and job losses.”