UK retail sales rose ahead of expectations in August bolstered by clothing and non-essential items despite shop prices rising at record levels.
The quantity of retail items bought last month increased 1% in comparison with July and 2.4% year-on-year, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
These results marked the 52nd consecutive months of rising sales and were driven by shoppers snapping up non-essential items, as sales were largely flat in the grocery sector year-on-year.
By contrast, non-food sales grew 3.4% by volume and 7.9% by value year-on-year, no doubt bolstered by back-to-school shopping trips.
“Non-food stores and non-store retailing recorded their sharpest spikes in price growth since March 1992”
The amount spent by shoppers rose 5.6% year-on-year driven by price increases across all sectors and store types.
Non-food stores and non-store retailing recorded their sharpest spikes in price growth since March 1992, up 3.2% and 3.3% respectively.
ONS senior statistician Kate Davis said: “Within this month’s retail sales we are seeing strong price increases across all store types compared with a year ago, reflecting wider inflationary pressures.
“However, we are still seeing underlying growth in sales volumes, and with strong growth in non-essential purchases as consumers continued to buy more from non-food stores.”
Deloitte’s head of retail Ian Geddes said: “Inflation is becoming more evident in the market and more visible to consumers.
“Consumers, who have so far remained surprisingly resilient to these inflationary pressures, may increasingly have to choose what to spend their money on: everyday essentials or discretionary items.
”In the coming months, we may see some discretionary sub-sectors struggle, and some of the gains we have seen this month in non-food and discretionary categories such as clothing could quickly reverse.
“Retailers may be forgiven for pinning hopes on the last three months of the year. In focusing on productivity and efficiency, retailers will be best placed to tackle the short-term challenge of softening demand and rising costs.”