Retail sales volumes slumped to below pre-Covid levels in September as sluggish consumer confidence and store closures during the Queen’s funeral impacted performance. 

Queen memorial message, Barbour store

Sales were hit by shops closing on the day of the Queen’s funeral

Sales volumes excluding fuel slumped 6.2% year on year and were down 0.3% compared to February 2020 levels, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In value terms, retail sales excluding fuel rose 3.3% year on year – and 11.8% on pre-pandemic levels – but those gains were driven by the rampant price inflation that has gripped the UK market.

Sales volumes and values excluding fuel were down 1.5% and 0.4% respectively on a month-on-month basis.

The ONS data suggested food stores suffered the steepest decline in sales volumes during September. Sales made through grocery stores fell 1.8% and were 3.2% below pre-Covid levels.

Non-food stores, by comparison, registered a 0.6% drop in sales volumes, leaving them 2.7% below pre-pandemic levels. 

Sales volumes at fashion stores inched up 0.1% during September. The ONS attributed the marginal gains to the performance of footwear shops.

The volume of goods purchased online slipped 3% in September. However, online sales volumes remain 18% ahead of February 2020 levels. 

Online sales accounted for 26.4% of total retail spend in September, the ONS said.

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