UK retail sales volumes dropped for a fifth month in a row during September, official data showed on Friday, as the country suffers supply constraints and high prices.
Sales volumes dropped 0.2 per cent last month from August, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement to register the longest retreat on record.
“Household goods were the main driver of… (September’s) decline, with a fall of nearly 10 per cent,” noted Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics. “Despite the lifting of (lockdown) restrictions, in-store retail sales remain subdued, with many consumers still opting to shop online,” he added.
Although sales of petrol surged in late September as drivers rushed to fill up their tanks, a UK fuel shortage crisis likely meant consumers visited stores only for necessities, analysts said.
“Whether the products aren’t available, the price tag is too high, or shoppers have simply finished fettling with their home decor, non-food sales pulled down September’s figures,” noted Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell. “Furniture stores have been warning for months that big ticket, big size items have been caught up in the shipping crisis and that seems to have worked its way through to consumer sales.”
Whether the products aren’t available, the price tag is too high, or shoppers have simply finished fettling with their home decor, non-food sales pulled down September’s figures– Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell
The UK is facing delays to the shipping of goods owing to an acute shortage of lorry drivers.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said retailers will be concerned “just as they begin their preparations for the all-important Christmas period” which last year was disrupted by a UK lockdown. This time around, the run-up to the festive season has been affected by supply disruptions as economies reopen from pandemic lockdowns.
Britain is meanwhile forecast to see an interest-rate rise from the Bank of England as soon as November to help dampen inflation, which could force consumers to cut spending ahead of Christmas. The BoE’s new chief economist Huw Pill said in an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday that the UK annual inflation rate risks shooting above 5.0 per cent in the coming months from 3.1 per cent currently.
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