Early Christmas shopping boosts September retail sales

Consumers spent more last month as they started their early Christmas shopping and spruced up their homes, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

The report showed that in September total sales increased by 5.6 per cent – the strongest monthly sales growth for retailers since December 2009, as like-for-like UK retail sales grew by 6.1 per cent.

However, sales of non-food items fell by 12.3 per cent in stores for the quarter to the end of last month as the high street’s post-COVID recovery continued.

Experts say “sales of electronics have remained high”, but for retailers “the fight for survival couldn’t be more intense”

Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, commented: “September saw a big improvement in retail sales growth, however sales over the last six months are still down on the previous year.

“With office workers still at home for the foreseeable future, the sales of electronics, household goods and home office products have remained high.

“September sales have also given retailers early signs that consumers are starting their Christmas shopping earlier this year, which retailers are encouraging their customers to do in order to manage demand at Christmas and keep people safe.

“However, store-based sales excluding food are still in double digit decline,” Ms Dickinson added.

This latest report comes after the BRC only recently reported that high street footfall steadily dropped throughout September.

Meanwhile, online non-food sales increased by 36.7 per cent in September, against a growth of just 3.5 per cent in the same month last year.

Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, added: “Online sales have eased slightly, but it’s clear that the convenience of the channel is so well engrained into the consumer’s psyche now and is therefore here to stay.

“As we enter the all-important ‘golden quarter’ – when many retailers make the majority of their annual revenue – the fight for survival couldn’t be more intense.”