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Unexpected August sales boost defies rising prices

Retail sales experienced an unexpected boost in August 2017 of 2.4% year on year, despite non-food and etail prices rising at their highest rate since 1992.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics indicated that the volume of sales also increased 1% compared with July 2017, against expectations of a 0.2% rise.

This came despite rising prices: clothing, textile and footwear store prices increased by 4.2% compared with August 2016, although this was largely attributed to sales and discounting periods coming to an end.

Kate Davies, senior statistician at the ONS, commented: “We are seeing strong price increases across all store types compared with a year ago, reflecting wider inflationary pressures. However, we are still seeing underlying growth in sales volumes, and strong growth in non-essential purchases as consumers continued to buy more from non-food stores.

Back-to-school items were also reported to have sold strongly during August, and the ONS reported that clothing and footwear stores fared well during the month.

The unexpected increase was also fuelled by strong non-store (predominantly online) sales. Overall retail sales grew 15.6% online year on year, totalling £1.1bn a week on average. Textile, clothing and home online sales grew 20.1%.

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