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Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail KPMG, comments on retail sales monitor Ausgust 2019.

Paul Martin

UK Head of Retail

KPMG in the UK


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August Sales Flatline

  • On a Total basis, sales were flat in August, against an increase of 1.3% in August 2018. This is above the 3-month average of -0.4% but below the 12-month average of 0.4%. This is the lowest 12-month average on record.
  • UK retail sales decreased by 0.5% on a Like-for-like basis from August 2018, when they had increased 0.2% from the preceding year. This is above the 3-month average of -0.7% but below the 12-month average of -0.2%.
  • Over the three months to August, In-store sales of Non-Food items declined 3.0% on a Total and Like-for-like basis. This is worse than the 12-month Total average decline of 2.6%.
  • Over the three months to August, Food sales decreased 0.3% on a Like-for-like basis and increased 0.5% on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 1.7%.
  • Over the three-months to August, Non-Food retail sales in the UK decreased by 1.2% on a like-for-like and Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average decrease of 0.7%. For the month of August, Non-Food was in decline year-on-year. 
  • Online sales of Non-Food products grew 2.2% in August, against a growth of 7.5% in August 2018. The 3-month and 12-month average growths were 3.4% and 4.3% respectively. 
  • Non-Food Online penetration rate increased from 28.0% in August 2018 to 29.5% last month.

Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail | KPMG

“August proved to be yet another incredibly disappointing month for retail, with like-for-like sales down 0.5% and total sales flat-lining at zero. It’s clear that for much of the retail market, efforts are being focussed on preservation, not growth, in this adverse and uncertain climate.

“The rhythm of the back-to-school promotions did provide some reprieve, bolstering sales of children’s fashion and footwear. This also appeared to benefit fashion sales more broadly. As has been the case for some time now, online sales outperformed the high street, but with growth as low as 2.2%, it’s clear that even this channel has slowed down drastically.

“With a budgetary Spending Review, the Brexit crunch point looming and potentially a general election on the cards, it’s clear that the only thing that is certain in the coming months is further uncertainty. It’s vital that retailers insulate themselves for every eventuality and have rigorous contingency plans in place.”

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium

“Retail sales flatlined in August with the 12-month average dropping to a new low of just 0.4%. Greater economic and political uncertainty has driven down consumer demand. While the summer weather gave a small boost to food sales, this was cancelled out by a drop in non-food sales.

“Summer discounting and poor footfall have hit in-store sales particularly hard. If the Government wants to avoid seeing further store closures and job losses on the UK high street, they must take action. Last month, fifty retail CEOs wrote to the Chancellor demanding he fix the broken business rates system, allowing businesses to fund vital investment during this unprecedented period of transformation.”

Food & Drink sector performance | Susan Barratt, CEO | IGD

“Food and grocery sales moved back into positive territory in August with year on year growth, thanks considerably to the approaching Bank Holiday heatwave. As August progressed, the October Brexit deadline received increasing attention but only 3 per cent of shoppers say they’ve begun to build stocks for this purpose: not enough to show through in the total sector sales.”

- ENDS -

For Media Enquiries:

Simon Wilson
PR Assistant Manager, KPMG

T 0207 311 6651
M 07785 373397

Tom Holder
Press Office, BRC

T 0207 854 8924
M 07772 382432

Alexandra Crisp
Senior Communications Officer, IGD

T 01923 857141
M 07590 183295

About the British Retail Consortium

The BRC’s purpose is to make a positive difference to the retail industry and the customers it serves, today and in the future.

Retail is an exciting, dynamic and diverse industry which is going through a period of profound change. The BRC is committed to ensuring the industry thrives through this period of transformation. We tell the story of retail, work with our members to drive positive change and use our expertise and influence to create an economic and policy environment that enables retail businesses to thrive and consumers to benefit. Our membership comprises over 5,000 businesses delivering £180bn of retail sales and employing over one and half million employees.

About KPMG in the UK

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 16,300 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.338 billion in the year ended 30 September 2018. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 154 countries and has 200,000 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. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

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