Retail sales unchanged in August

| September 17, 2009 | 0 Comments

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today reported that retail sales were flat in August compared with July.

In July, retail sales grew by a revised 0.2% and this followed a 1.3% rise reported in June. Analysts had been expecting a third straight month of growth to boost recovery hopes - as has been the case with other economic data.

However, August retail sales were unchanged and followed the news from John Lewis today, who posted a 19.6% fall in profits for the six-month period to August 1.

The owner of the Waitrose supermarket chain, as well as the renowned employee-owned department store, is seen as a barometer of British retailing.

John Lewis chairman, Charlie Mayfield, said: “We believe that trading conditions this year will continue to be better than expected. However, 2010 may be difficult and we foresee a slow, drawn out economic recovery.”

Meanwhile, commenting on today’s retail figures, British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: “The official data confirms our own findings that the strong retail sales in June and July were not sustained.”

“As we head to the crucial final quarter we mustn’t get carried away if, in the next few months, sales growth data appear particularly strong. The comparison will be with very weak figures last year, when total sales growth fell below zero from October onwards and Christmas was the worst since 1995,” added Mr Robertson.

However, some sectors performed well with food sales rising by 0.7% in August, while non-store retailing (which includes internet, telephone and mail order shopping) and repair shops saw sales grow by 1.1%.

However, all non-food sectors, excluding household goods, posted falls with the worst performers being textile, clothing and footwear shops, where sales fell 1.3%.

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