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10 Sep 2021

Rush to buy school uniform keeps retail sales buoyant in August

The rush to buy new school clothing helped retail sales remain buoyant in August 2021, according to a new report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Key points from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for August 2021 are as follows:

  • On a Total basis, sales increased by 3.0% in August, against a growth of 3.9% in August 2020. This is below the 3-month average growth of 6.9% and the 12-month average growth of 10.3%.
  • UK retail sales increased 1.5% on a Like-for-like basis from August 2020, when they had increased 4.7% from the preceding year.
  • Over the three months to August, Food sales increased 1.9% on a Like-for-like basis and increased 2.9% on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 5.4%. For the month of August, Food was in growth year-on-year.
  • Over the three-months to August, Non-Food retail sales increased by 6.8% on a like-for-like basis and 10.3% on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 14.4%. For the month of August, Non-Food was in growth year-on-year.
  •  Over the three months to August, In-Store sales of Non-Food items grew 23.7% on a Total basis and increased 16.7% on a Like-for-like basis. The Total growth was above the 12-month average of 21.7%.
  • Over the three-months to December, In-store sales declined 1.2% on a Total basis and 1.4% on a like-for-like basis.
  • Online Non-Food sales decreased by 4.6% in August, against a growth of 42.4% in August 2020. This is below the 3-mth average decline of 3.5%. Non-Food Online penetration rate decreased from 39.3% in August 2020 to 38.3% this August.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium, said:“As the post-lockdown pent-up demand has mellowed, the growth in retail sales we have seen over the past few months slowed for August. Despite this, the month still saw growth above pre-pandemic levels, as rising consumer confidence and footfall levels led to a boost in in-store sales. With wedding season in full swing and many workers gradually returning to the office, formalwear was a strong performer. Additionally, the bank holiday weekend and back-to-school buzz contributed to the rise in non-food sales. While online sales have begun to slow, they were still high, demonstrating how the pandemic has shifted the digital-physical shopping balance.

 “With demand waning, combined with a precarious economic backdrop and retailers grappling with higher costs across the supply chain, the number of shuttered stores in the UK will continue to rise. The current broken business rates system is yet another burden on retailers, and Government must support retailers and deliver on its promise in the business rates review to reduce the overall burden of tax to sustainable levels. Without such intervention, we could see many retail businesses shut shop, thousands of jobs lost, and the heart of our communities gone."

Read the full report here

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