Surprise rise in UK September sales volumes

Friday, 21 October 2011
Britain's Office for National Statistics' latest retail sales bulletin shows a surprise volume rise in September, with a rise of 0.6% compared to the same month in 2010. Besides, sales values increased by 5.4 per cent compared to September 2010. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that UK retail sales volumes rose by 0.6% in September compared to the same time last year, as opposed to the rather flat performance forecast. The rise was boosted by sales of video games, thanks to new releases, and laptop purchases in readiness for the new school term. However, analysts believe the cost-of-living pressures mean this lift in sales performance will be short-lived.

More telling is the effect of rising inflation as sales values rose 5.4% in September compared with the previous month. The combination of high inflation and a VAT rise that came into effect last year points to little real overall growth.

Online spending amounted to $851.5 million or 9.6% of retail sales, excluding auto fuel, compared with 7.7% of retail sales the previous year. Meanwhile textile, clothing and footwear sales volume in-store fell 2.1% compared to September 2010, the largest fall since April 2008, compared to a rise of 21% in sales volume for the same products online. Sales values increased by 0.4 per cent over the same period. In September 2011 all three types of stores within this sector, textile stores, clothing stores and footwear stores, saw non-seasonally adjusted sales volumes decrease, by 25.1 per cent, 1.9 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively.

"Christmas has always been the most important time for retail but this year is going to be particularly critical as businesses look to make up lost ground," said Stephen Robinson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium. "Customers can expect to benefit from extremely fierce competition for their spending."

Looking at the non-seasonally adjusted year on year all retail sales volume data, small stores (those with employment of less than 100), fared better than large stores, increasing by 2.1 per cent and compared to large stores increase of 0.2 per cent.

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