Retail sales suffered last month as the Rio Olympic Games and sunny weather distracted consumers and dissuaded them from buying the new autumn collections.
Total sales fell 0.3% year on year, while like-for-likes fell 0.9%, according to the British Retail Consortium and KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. This is the weakest performance since September 2014, excluding Easter distortions.
On a three-month basis, total non-food sales rose 0.4%, a slower rate than the 12-month average of 1.9%. Clothing registered its worst 12-month growth since the autumn of 2009, the monitor showed, although it did not give further details.
The slowdown – affecting most non-food categories – was driven by lower footfall due to the warmer weather.
“The weather conditions were more conducive to shopping the summer ranges in the clearance sales than the new full price items,” said the Retail Sales Monitor’s manager, Anne Alexandre.
Online sales of non-food products also suffered, increasing by just 6.2% - the slowest growth since May 2013. Sales of women’s footwear online were particularly hard hit as warm weather dissuaded shoppers from buying the new autumn collections.
David McCorquoadale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Sales of women’s fashions performed particularly poorly, despite widespread promotions. The warmer weather made it almost too hot too shop and dissuaded shoppers from looking at the newly arrived autumn products. Given the volatility of retail sales in the past few month, no doubt retailers will be hoping for a smoother ride in the lead up to Christmas.”
However, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson urged retailers not to read too much in to the “lacklustre” figures: “As we’ve seen in the last couple of months, data portending the health of the economy paint a volatile picture.
“The fact is little has directly changed for the UK’s consumers as a result of the referendum, so it’s the pre-existing dynamics that are still driving sales.
“The slowdown in real wage growth in the first half of 2016 and strong market competition will continue to weigh on trend growth in total sales, while holiday timing, promotional and seasonal activity will contribute to fluctuations month on month.”