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UK retail sales suffer due to warm weather

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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UK Retail Credits: McArthurGlen

UK retail sales saw a larger-than-anticipated decline in September, primarily attributed to unseasonably warm weather and the pressures of the rising cost of living, according to official figures released on Friday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported a 0.9 percent drop in retail sales for the month, following a 0.4 percentincrease in August. This decrease exceeded the expectations of economists, who had forecast a 0.2 percent decline in a Reuters poll.

Oliver Vernon-Harcourt, head of retail at Deloitte, told FashionUnited in an email:  “The joint warmest September on record and a return to school failed to fuel overall growth in retail sales in an unexpected subdued performance. The late summer heatwave delayed the purchase of autumn and winter goods, with continued uncertainty around high mortgage rates, falling house prices and rising rents.

“The cost of many essential items remains high, following a period of prolonged pressure from food inflation. While food sales saw marginal growth in September, retailers will be focused on providing the best value for their customers in the run up to the festive period.

“As we enter the ‘Golden Quarter’, retailers will be hoping for a steady increase in consumer confidence. Deloitte’s upcoming Consumer Tracker report will show that more consumers are planning to do their Christmas gift shopping on the high street than last year. With this in mind, we anticipate a highly competitive festive season for retailers where product, price and availability, combined with great in-store customer service, will be key to secure their share of consumer spend.”

In response to the data, the British pound weakened against the U.S. dollar, reported Reuters. Comparing the figures to a year ago, sales volumes were down by 1 percent. The overall retail sales for the third quarter, which faced a slow start due to unusually wet weather in July, were 0.8 percent lower than the preceding quarter.

Sales volume are yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, with purchases 3 percent lower than in 2019.