Online retailers see double but uncertainty remains, BRC KPMG Retail Sales Monitor
September saw UK retail sales increase by 1.9% on a like-for-like basis from the same time last year, when they went up 0.4% from 2015, according to BRC/KPMG research.
And non-food online sales produced double digit growth, outpacing the uptick seen on the High Street. Online sales of non-food products grew 10.7% in September, above both the 3-month and 12-month averages of 10% and 8.8% respectively. Online penetration rate increased from 21.5% in September 2016 to 22.4% in September 2017, the highest penetration rate since January.
Trouble ahead for retailers?
“September saw a second consecutive month of relatively good sales growth which should indicate welcome news for retailers and the economy alike,” says Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium. “Looking beneath the surface though, we see that much of this growth is being driven by price increases filtering through, particularly in food and clothing, which were the highest performing product categories for the month. Retailers have worked hard to keep a lid on price rises following the depreciation of the pound, but with a potent mix of more expensive imports and increasing business costs from various government policies, something had to give at some point.”
She adds: “From a consumer perspective, spending is still being focussed towards essential purchases; with consumers buying their winter coats and back to school items, but shying away from big ticket items such as furniture and delaying the renewal of key household electrical goods. Online has been the biggest beneficiary of the resilience in consumer spending capacity in the last two months, sustaining a return to double digit year-on-year growth figures as shoppers responded well to discounts and the ongoing investment by retailers in improving the mobile shopping experience."
Paul Martin, Head of Retail, KPMG UK, adds: “With potential interest rate rises on the horizon, shaky consumer confidence and ever increasing levels of household debt, uncertainty remains. We’re now moving into the final quarter, which will ultimately define whether 2017 has been a good or bad year for retailers.”