Belfast Telegraph

Back-to-school clothes shopping boost to high street

By Ben Woods

Demand for autumn fashion and back-to-school kit lifted retail sales last month despite shoppers facing persistent pressure from higher inflation.

Figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG showed like-for-like sales rose 1.3% in August, rebounding from a 0.9% fall in 2016 when retailers suffered a blow from the Brexit vote. Total sales notched up 2.4% compared to a 0.3% decline in 2016, with shoppers upping their spend ahead of the new school term.

In the food sector, total sales remained robust, easing back by 0.2 percentage points to 3.2% for the three months to August, but remaining above the annual average of 2.7%.

Despite the brighter update, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson warned of a tough road ahead for retailers if consumers tighten their belts. 

“These figures tell a less positive story about the health of consumer spending than it might seem at first glance,” Ms Helen Dickinson said.

“Non-food sales have only just recovered to levels seen two years ago, after a dismal August in 2016; while strong figures for food are largely the result of rising prices, leaving growth in volume terms weaker than last year.”

Belfast Telegraph