Sunnier weather for August, but no respite for retailers

UK retail sales in August rose 1.8 per cent like for like compared with 2.5 per cent in the same month last year.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the three-month rate of growth was unchanged from July at 2.1 per cent like for like, but total sales slipped to 4 per cent from 4.1 per cent.

Sunnier weekends helped food, clothing and footwear sales to pick up from a poor July, but growth remained weaker than earlier this year. Furniture and homewares fell back after good gains in June and July, which were driven by aggressive discounting in clearance sales. DIY and gardening were broadly unchanged and still weather-dependent.

BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins said: “The arrival of drier, if not warmer, weather has had little effect on retail sales. The squeeze on disposable incomes, reinforced by worries about interest rates, is depressing both retail sales and shop prices. There is no case for another hike in interest rates. The next move should be in the opposite direction.”