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Retail sales remain flat in August

Retail sales remained flat between July and August, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Non-food stores performed worse than food stores. Textile, clothing and footwear put in the poorest performance with a 1.3% drop, driven by a decrease in clothing stores.

Predominantly food stores increased by 0.7%, while predominantly non-food stores were down 0.6%.

However, August’s retail sales saw a 2.1% rise from the same month last year, with clothing, footwear and textiles one of the strongest performers, up by 4.2%. Overall, food retailers were up 3.3% and non-food increased 0.2%.

Total sales volume in the three months to August was 2.7% higher than the same period a year ago and increased by 1.2% compared to the previous three months of this year. Textile, clothing and footwear stores saw the largest growth, when compared to the previous three months of this year, at 2.4%.

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: “The official data confirms our own findings that the strong retail sales in June and July were not sustained.”

He added: “As we head to the crucial final quarter we mustn’t get carried away if, in the next few months, sales growth data appear particularly strong. The comparison will be with very weak figures last year, when total sales growth fell below zero from October onwards and Christmas was the worst since 1995.”

Deloitte’s strategic retail adviser Richard Hyman said: “Given GDP has fallen by over 5% in the past 12 months, it is a surprise that retail sales have been continuing to grow and may mask what remains an industry under pressure.”

Barclays Commercial Bank’s head of retail and wholesale Richard Lowe said: “In the face of a tough climate, major retailers are continuing to post good results. The shape of the retail sector overall is prompting mixed views but these figures add little to the picture indicating as they do no movement in sales between July and August.”

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