Bank holiday and rain hold back retailers

Like-for-like sales in August were 1 per cent lower than a year earlier. Picture: Andy O'Brien
Like-for-like sales in August were 1 per cent lower than a year earlier. Picture: Andy O'Brien
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RETAIL sales fell last month, held back by the wet weather and late bank holiday that dented demand for back-to-school essentials such as clothing and stationery.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) retail sales monitor, produced with accountant KPMG, showed that like-for-like sales in August were 1 per cent lower than a year earlier, with household appliances and furniture also experiencing declines.

However, there was better news for food retailers, with sales in the three months to August up 0.3 per cent, while the 12-month average total food growth turned positive for the first time since August 2014.

BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said today’s study “suggests there may be cause for optimism for food sales following a prolonged period of stagnation” triggered by the grocery price wars.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, added: “As the summer bank holiday fell a week later this year, sales were pushed into September, meaning top-line trends for August were inevitably dampened, along with the weather, versus 2014.

“September sales will get a shot in the arm from the bank holiday and the camaraderie of the Rugby World Cup. However, the fashion world will be hoping that last year’s ‘Indian summer’ does not repeat itself, resulting in heavy discounting to move seasonal items.”