Consumer confidence produces bumper September retail sales

Consumer spending bounced back last month as the high street chalked up its best September in three years.

Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) recorded a year-on-year sales uplift of 2.8 per cent for September, the best figures for the month of September since 2012 and the highest monthly rise since April last year.

The lifestyle sector grew 5.4 per cent year-on-year in September, with fashion hitting its highest growth in a year with a like-for-like sales increase of 2.8 per cent.

The growth brings the curtain down on a torrid summer for a high street which saw Brits splashing out in bars and restaurants, and on holidays abroad, rather than in UK stores.

Retail sales reached their nadir last month with a 4.3 per cent drop in year-on-year sales for August – the biggest fall since the beginning of the global financial crisis in November 2008.

But the cold snap at the beginning of September saw the floodgates open, with pent-up demand driving shoppers to the high street in record numbers to recharge their winter wardrobes.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said the turnaround pointed to improving consumer confidence. "Unpredictable weather, cheap deals abroad and fragmented discounting have combined to give stores a tough time this summer," she said. "But wages are improving and inflation returned to zero in September with little noise on interest rates, giving people back some of the spending power they lost during the financial crisis.

"Returning from the summer and settling back into routine combined with the first hints of winter at the beginning of September gave people the reason they needed to spend, and the sales uplift was immediate. Retailers should take heart from this. With spending beginning to flow ahead of the Christmas Season, retailers should ensure their product and customer experience is set right to take their share of the consumer purse"

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