In August, UK retail sales increased by +3%, against a growth of +3.9% in the same month last year, reports BRC-KPMG. On a two-year basis, total retail sales grew +8.9% compared with the same month in 2019.

Retail sales increased +1.5% on a LFL basis YoY. 

On a two-year basis, Non-Food sales saw growth of 11.9% for the three-months to August. Online non-food sales decreased by -4.6% in August, against a growth of +42.4% YoY. The non-food online penetration rate decreased to 38.3% (from 42% YoY).

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), says: “As post-lockdown, pent-up demand has softened, the growth in retail sales we have seen over the past few months slowed for August. Nonetheless, we still saw growth above pre-pandemic levels, as people returned to stores in greater numbers.

"While the online sales growth has begun to slow, it is still high when compared with pre-pandemic growth rates. This demonstrates how the pandemic has shifted the digital-physical shopping balance and increased the linkage between the two channels.”

Don Williams, retail partner at KPMG, adds: “Much like the summer weather, retail performance in August was mixed. Sales growth on the high street continued to slow, with footfall still below pre-pandemic levels and online sales took a retreat from the highs of last year, whilst some discretionary non-food categories continued their recovery.

“Overall, the high street saw +3% growth, dented by lower food sales growth of +1.9% as consumers enjoyed a fully reopened hospitality sector. Online sales fell back by -2.5% compared to August 2020, though online penetration rates remained significantly above pre-pandemic levels, signalling the step up in online shopping is here to stay. Clothing, footwear and accessories continued their recovery with some healthy sales increases but from a much lower base, whilst technology and furniture/appliance categories suffered against very strong comparatives in 2020.  

“With the retail recovery showing signs of slowing, the sector is expected to grow at a more muted rate as retailers face increasing challenges on a number of fronts. Inflation is expected to accelerate putting pressure on household spending, whilst retailers battle for share of wallet as consumers spend money on leisure, entertainment and travel. Staffing pressures remain and supply chain issues are being widely reported, with raw material shortages and challenges getting product into the UK and getting goods into customers' hands. This may feed into limited availability of certain products and the spectre of price rises remains."