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BRC – KPMG Retail Sales Monitor September 2019

BRC – KPMG Retail Sales Monitor September 2019

Spectre of no deal holds back spending.


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Covering the five weeks 25 August – 28 September 2019

  • On a Total basis, sales decreased by 1.3% in September, against an increase of 0.7% in September 2018. This is below the 3-month average decline of 0.4% and the 12-month average growth of 0.2%, a new record low. It is also the worst September since our records began in 1995.
  • In September, UK retail sales decreased by 1.7% on a Like-for-like basis from September 2018, when they had decreased 0.2% from the preceding year. This is worse than both the 3-month and 12-month averages of -0.8% and -0.4% respectively. This is the lowest 12-month average since August 2009.
  • Over the three months to September, In-store sales of Non-Food items declined 3.2% on both a Total and Like-for-like basis. This is worse than the 12-month Total average decline of 2.9%.
  • Over the three months to September, Food sales increased 0.3% on a Like-for-like basis and 1.2% on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 1.7%, which is the lowest since March 2017.
  • Over the three-months to September, Non-Food retail sales in the UK decreased by 1.7% on both a like-for-like and Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average decrease of 1.0%, which is a new record low. For the month of September, Non-Food was in decline year-on-year.
  • Online sales of Non-Food products grew 0.7% in September, the worst ever recorded. It was against a growth of 5.4% in September 2018. The 3-month and 12-month average growths were 2.1% and 3.8% respectively.
  • Non-Food Online penetration rate increased from 28.0% in September 2018 to 29.9% last month.


Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail | KPMG

“Unsurprisingly September proved to be another difficult month for retailers, with like-for-like sales declining by 1.7 per cent compared to last year. Worryingly, even online sales moved closer to stalling, with growth of non-food online sales only 0.7 per cent.

“Ongoing Brexit uncertainty is clearly having a material impact on the consumer psyche, with all but one non-food category being in decline in September. Consumers are choosing to focus on the essentials, with food one of the few categories delivering growth.

“We will likely experience increased promotional activity to clear surplus stock, which doesn’t bear well for retailers desperately trying to make up for lost ground after several difficult months.

“Retailers’ focus needs to be on cost and efficiency with only the leanest and most efficient operations coping with this extreme test of endurance. October, and the ramping up of Brexit plans, will clearly be a real test for the industry as a whole.”


Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium

“With the spectre of a no-deal weighing increasingly on consumer purchasing decisions, it is no surprise that sales growth has once again fallen into the red. Many consumers held off from non-essential purchases, or shopped around for the bigger discounts, while the new autumn clothing ranges suffered from the warmer September weather. The longer-term prospect continues to be bleak, with the 12-month average once again plumbing new depths at a mere 0.2 per cent. Online non-food sales growth was the lowest on record, though still compared favourably to the decline in growth at physical stores.

“With four months of negative sales growth since March, the ongoing political gridlock surrounding Brexit is harming both consumers and retailers. Clarity is needed over our future trading relationship with our closest neighbours, and it is vitally important that Britain does not leave the EU without a deal.”


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

“September seems to have seen something of a return to normality for the food and grocery market after the ups and downs of the summer. While taking a bit of a boost from some late seasonal weather at the beginning of the period, sales stabilised in modestly positive territory as the month progressed.

“While the Rugby World Cup offers only limited sales impact, retailers are looking to the succession of Autumn events - starting with Halloween - to drive more positive momentum as consumers begin to turn their minds toward Christmas.”



For Media Enquiries:

Simon Wilson
PR Assistant Manager, KPMG
              0207 311 6651
M            07785 373397

Tom Holder
Press Office, BRC

T            0207 854 8924
M          07772 382432

Alexandra Crisp

Senior Communications Officer, IGD
              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.

© 2021 KPMG LLP a UK limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

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