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September store sales disappoint

UK retail sales decreased by 0.2% in September compared with the same month in 2017, the British Retail Consortium and KPMG’s latest Retail Sales Monitor shows.

Sales growth was the weakest it has been in five months.

Non-food items, including clothing, showed particularly disappointing results. Over the three months to September, non-food sales fell 1.6% on a like-for-like basis and 0.6% on a total basis in the UK, in line with the 12-month total average decrease of 0.5%.

In-store sales were down 2.7% on a total basis – and 4% on a like-for-like basis – over the three months to September. Back-to-school purchasing failed to make a significant impact on consumer spending.

Online purchasing continued to flourish, albeit at a slower rate than last year. Online sales of  non-food items grew 5.4% for September compared with growth of 10.7% for September 2017.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail for KPMG, said: “Last year consumers were remaining more defiant in the face of Brexit and shopping regardless.

“The final golden quarter of the year marks the ultimate test for many players, but retailers must also successfully navigate the upcoming government Budget, Black Friday, Christmas and, of course, Brexit.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, added: “The retail industry pays a disproportionate amount of tax. It represents 5% of the economy but pays 10% of business tax and almost 25% of business rates. A tax system skewed towards high taxes on people and property is contributing to stores closures and job losses and is stalling the successful reinvention of our high streets.

“The government urgently needs to reduce the business rates burden and create a tax system fit for the 21st century that more fairly distributes taxes right across the economy.”

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