Retail sales have seen the lowest 12 month average on record as shoppers play a waiting game amid ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
In August, UK retail sales fell 0.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis, compared with the same month last year, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG.
This is above the three month average of -0.4 per cent but below the 12-month average of 0.4 per cent, the lowest year-long average on record.
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The warm late summer weather helped food sales in the UK grow, but these were offset by a fall in non-food sales.
Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “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.”
The trade body is urging the Government to overhaul business rates to avoid more retailers going bust. But the Government has made no firm commitments.
Susan Barratt, chief executive of the IGD food and drink trade body, said: “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.”