- UK retail sales values were down by 0.4% on a like-for-like basis from August 2011, when they were down 0.6% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 1.6%, against a 1.5% rise in August 2011.
- Excluding the Easter anomaly, these were both the lowest since November 2011, driven by particularly weak non-food sales as the feelgood factor from the Olympics failed to inspire spending.
- There was a mild boost to food sales in the form of party food and drink, but the net effect of the Games was minimal as lower footfall in London was offset by a better performance in the rest of the country.
- The most noticeable impact from the Olympics was felt online which saw growth of just 4.8% in August – the lowest since the Monitor started collecting data on this in October 2008.
Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "There’s no evidence here of any Olympic boost to retail sales overall. Sadly, apart from April - distorted by Easter timings - August saw the worst sales growth this year.
"Hot weather and the Olympics did help sales of party food and drink but that was more than offset by a really weak performance for non-food goods.
"It’s clear people were absorbed by the magnificent Olympics and had little interest in shopping, especially for major items. Usually-reliable online sales suffered, putting in the worst sales growth since we started the measure four years ago. Some retailers told us online activity was particularly thin in the evenings. If people weren’t watching television they were more likely to be following the sport on PCs and mobile devices than shopping.
"As summer gives way to the all-important Christmas run-up, retailers will be hoping sales that didn’t happen in August have been postponed and not lost entirely."
Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "Retailers’ hopes that the Olympics would inspire a pickup in spending were dashed as shoppers stayed away from the high street and enjoyed the sporting spectacle from their armchairs. While, without doubt, the Olympics brought a much needed boost to consumer confidence, the country was ‘otherwise engaged’ in August and the sales figures show a mixed picture. Those areas of spending which are most discretionary suffered, with women’s clothing, furniture, flooring and home related items hit the hardest.
"However, it could have been much worse. August is traditionally a weak month for sales and it’s really the next three months that will have a critical impact on retailers’ profitability. The challenge remains to accurately forecast outcomes in such a volatile trading environment."
Food & Drink – Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive, IGD, said: "August’s food and grocery sales improved slightly compared with the previous month. Team GB’s Olympic success may have provided a mild boost, but it was the sunshine that had more impact: sales peaked in the third week of the month, as the weather improved.
"While the nation continues to enjoy the feelgood factor into the Paralympics, shoppers are still keeping a careful watch on their finances. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of them tell us they are looking more closely at the price of products before deciding what to buy, since the beginning of the year."
Online* (Non-Food) - Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "Proportionately, online retailing was hit harder by the Olympic distraction than stores.
"August’s online sales growth was a third the rate of the previous month and the lowest since we started this measure in October 2008. Television took much more of people’s attention than is usual at this time of year and even those still on PCs and mobile devices were more likely to be following the Games than shopping. Fundamentally, online retailing is still strong and this is almost certainly just an interlude in the trend of rapid expansion but online outperformed overall retailing by the narrowest margin we’ve recorded."
The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor measures changes in the actual value (including VAT*) of retail sales, excluding automotive fuel. The Monitor measures the value of spending and hence does not adjust for price or VAT changes. If prices are rising, sales volumes will increase by less than sales values. In times of price deflation, sales volumes will increase by more than sales values.
Retailers report the value of their sales for the current period and the equivalent period a year ago. These figures are reported both in total and on a ‘like-for-like’ basis.
* VAT changes: from 17.5% to 15% on 1st Dec 2008; to 17.5% on 1st Jan 2010; to 20.0% on 4th Jan 2011.
Total sales growth is the percentage change in the value of all sales compared to the same period a year earlier. The total sales measure is used to assess market level trends in retail sales. It is a guide to the growth of the whole retail industry, or how much consumers in total are spending in retail – retail spending represents approximately one-third of consumer spending. It is this measure that is often used by economists. Many retailers include distance sales as a component of total sales.
'Like-for-like' sales growth is the percentage change in the value of comparable sales compared to the same period a year earlier. It excludes any spending in stores that opened or closed in the intervening year, thus stripping out the effect on sales of changes in floorspace. Many retailers include distance sales as a component of like-for-like comparable sales.
The like-for-like measure is often used by retailers, the city and analysts to assess the performance of individual companies, retail sectors and the industry overall, without the distorting effect of changes in floorspace.
Online (including mail order and phone) sales of non-food are transactions which take place over the internet, or via mail order or phone. Online sales growth is the percentage change in the value of online sales compared to those in the same period a year earlier. It is a guide to the growth of sales made by this non-store channel. It should be noted that online sales are still a very small proportion of total UK retail sales. Estimates based on ONS figures show about 9 per cent of total UK retail sales (food and non-food) are achieved via the non-store channel.
The responses provided by retailers within each sales category are weighted (based on ONS weightings) to reflect the contribution of each category to total retail sales, thus making it representative of UK retail sales as a whole. Because the figures compare sales this month with the comparable period last year, a seasonal adjustment is not made. However, changes in the timing of Bank Holidays and Easter can create distortions, which should be considered in the interpretation of the data.
As well as receiving sales value direct from the retailers in the scheme the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor also receives food and drink sales value data from the IGD's Market Track Scheme.
In its role as sponsor of the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, KPMG is responsible for the aggregation of the retail sales data provided by the retailers on a weekly basis. This data consists of the relevant current week’s sales data and comparative sales figures for the same period in the prior year. The aggregation has been performed by KPMG on data for periods following 2 April 2000 and equivalent prior periods. The accuracy of the data is entirely the responsibility of the retailers providing it. The sponsorship role has been performed by KPMG since 10 April 2000 and the same for the aggregation of comparative sales figures for the period from 2 April 2000 it is not responsible for the aggregation of any data included in this Monitor relating to any period prior to 2 April 2000. The commentary from KPMG is intended to be of general interest to readers but is not advice or a recommendation and should not be relied upon without first taking professional advice. Anyone choosing to rely on it does so at his or her own risk. To the fullest extent permitted by law, KPMG will accept no responsibility or liability in connection with its sponsorship of the Monitor and its aggregation work to any party other than the BRC.
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The September 2012 Monitor, covering the five weeks 26 August – 29 September, will be released at 00.01am Tuesday 9 October 2012.
The data is collected and collated for the BRC by KPMG.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is the UK's leading retail trade association. It represents the full range of retailers, large and small, multiples and independents, food and non-food, online and store based.
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KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with over 11,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.7 billion in the year ended September 2011. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in 152 countries and have 145,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. KPMG International provides no client services.
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