Re­tail sales on the up as food and cloth­ing prices in­crease

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - BY KA­LY­EENA MAKO­RTOFF

RE­TAIL sales grew in Septem­ber, but were sup­ported by higher food and cloth­ing prices on the back of the Brexit-hit pound.

Fig­ures from the British Re­tail Con­sor­tium (BRC) and KPMG showed that like-for-like re­tail sales rose 1.9% last month, com­pared to a 0.4% rise a year ear­lier, while to­tal sales climbed 2.3%.

While the re­sults ap­pear to ex­tend strong sales seen in Au­gust, ex­perts say shop­pers are spend­ing more on es­sen­tials but shy­ing away from big ticket items like fur­ni­ture and house­hold goods amid creep­ing in­fla­tion which hit 2.9% in Au­gust.

BRC chief ex­ec­u­tive He­len Dickinson said: “Septem­ber saw a se­cond con­sec­u­tive month of rel­a­tively good sales growth which should in­di­cate wel­come news for re­tail­ers and the econ­omy alike.

“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.”

Chil­dren’s cloth­ing in par­tic­u­lar was a top seller as back-toschool shop­ping con­tin­ued last month.

Ms Dickinson said re­tail­ers had “worked hard” to avoid price hikes linked to the Brexit-hit pound, but that some­thing “had to give” amid ris­ing im­port prices as well as busi­ness costs linked to “var­i­ous gov­ern­ment poli­cies”.

The sur­vey showed that food sales alone in­creased 2.5% on a like-for-like ba­sis over the three months to Septem­ber and 3.5% in to­tal, while the like-for-like sale of non-food items rose only 0.5%, and 0.9% on a to­tal ba­sis.

Non-food sales faced par­tic­u­lar dif­fi­cul­ties on the high street.

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