Shoppers defy retail concerns to continue spending spree

The period from June to August saw sales up 3.4% over the previous summer
The period from June to August saw sales up 3.4% over the previous summer

Shoppers have defied Brexit concerns to continue their spending spree over the summer, figures show.

Retail sales were up 0.3% in August on the month before, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Sales of household goods jumped by 4.5% while other non-food stores enjoyed a 2.8% rise, however food sales fell by 0.6% and clothing fell by 1.9%.

The last three months of summer from June to August saw sales rise by 3.4% compared with the previous summer, with food and household goods stores doing well in the warm weather.

Spending online continued to increase to reach a new record proportion of all retailing at 18.2%, while spending in department stores also reached a record proportion at 18.4%.

ONS senior statistician Rhian Murphy said: “Retail sales remained strong in the three months to August, with continued growth across all sectors.

“Food and household goods stores particularly benefited from the warm weather when compared with last summer.

“The figures for the month of August were a little more mixed, with food sales falling after strong sales earlier in the summer, and clothing sales declining following a strong July, as suggested by clothing retailers. On the other hand, household goods grew strongly.”

Tom Stevenson, investment director at Fidelity International, said: “The headline level of retail sales data was unexpectedly strong for August, although buoyant household goods volumes were offset by declines in food, clothing and petrol.

“Food and clothing retreated after benefiting from the unusually warm weather in July. The rising cost of fuel is also starting to bite. So this is a mixed bag, which paints an unconvincing picture of recovery on the UK’s struggling high streets.

“To add to the cocktail of concerns for the British high street, yesterday’s inflation data showed that price rises are once again outstripping our pay packets.

“The continued pressure on households’ disposable income means we are likely to see consumers start tightening their belts again.”