Hopes of summer sales boost washed out

August figures continue to fall following bad weather and low consumer confidence.
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BRC Figures have shown UK retail sales values fell one per cent on a like-for-like basis from August 2007.

Sales have now been lower than a year ago in five of the past six months, making this the worst since summer 2005.

Bad weather has hit sales in August. A few sunny days, together with extended clearance events helped some, but underlying trade remained tough, with widespread discounting.
Record-low consumer confidence and increasing demands on household budgets meant shoppers looked for value and planned spending carefully to take advantage of promotions and discounts. Housing market weakness continued to hit big-ticket homewares.

Stephen Robertson, director general of British Retail Consortium, said:

“Miserable weather washed out hopes of a summer boost for retailers, already suffering the slowdown. Even food sales growth slowed as customers focused even more on value.

“Prospects for customers and retailers are inextricably linked. Helping retailers keep prices down by cutting regulatory costs is the best way the Government can assist hard-pressed customers. It must think again on business rate supplements and empty property rates relief and consider carefully where the minimum wage goes next.”

Helen Dickinson, head of retail, KPMG, said: “The only good news is that the results do not show a significant and further deterioration of the trend over the previous few months, but there is no doubt August was another disappointing month for UK retail.

"We continue to see total UK sales and total food sales growing compared to same period last year but with like-for-like sales falls across almost all the non-food sectors. There is also a wide variation in the performance of individual retailers and across the month, as many have used tactical promotional activity to drive sales, particularly around discretionary purchases."

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