Sales slump in September
Responding to the latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures, which showed a 0.0% year-on-year sales growth in September (non-seasonally adjusted retail sales excluding fuel: J3L2), Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers will be concerned by the slump in sales, just as they begin their preparations for the all-important Christmas period. Fuel shortages, wet weather, and low consumer confidence all contributed to lower consumer demand this month, with household goods, furniture and books all hit particularly hard. Internet sales growth showed its fourth consecutive month of decline as digital businesses struggled to maintain the level of sales seen in 2020, at the height of the pandemic. Nonetheless, internet sales still remain well above pre-pandemic levels as hybrid working made receiving parcels much more convenient than before.
“For the sake of the UK’s economic recovery, it is vital that retail sales bounce back as we near the festive season. Labour shortages across the supply chains, on farms, factories, warehouses and lorry drivers, all threaten to derail this recovery and it is vital that government finds a long term solution to this problem. Labour shortages, alongside higher energy, commodity, and transport costs, are all putting pressure on prices, with three in five retailers warning of higher prices before Christmas.”