Good performance against weak comparatives
Retail sales in the UK were up 2.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis over August, with furniture and homewares performing surprisingly well.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), cooler weather last month encouraged consumers back into the shops for homewares and furniture, especially where new lines or promotions were on offer.

During the month, total sales were up 5.5 per cent. In the three months from June to August like-for-like sales rose by 2.7 per cent and total sales were up 5.4 per cent.

Food sales slowed following a warm July, which prompted grocery led purchases, and clothing slowed as clearance Sales ended.

BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins said: 'While the modest recovery in some non-food product categories is obviously welcome, the comparatives with August 2005 are very weak and price competition is as keen as ever. Any suggestion that we are seeing a significant and sustainable return to the sort of sales growth we were reporting two or three years ago is simply not supported by the evidence. The recent increase in interest rates has yet to work through to consumer spending or the housing market. The outlook for the next few months is therefore very uncertain.'

With consumers more cautious on the back of July's interest rate rise, sales of larger items were often discount-driven during August.