Saturday, October 16, 2021

UK retail sales fall for fourth straight month

UK retail sales fell for the fourth straight month in August as grocery sales were hit by more people returning to restaurants and pubs, according to official data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volume declined 0.9 percent last month after a 2.8 percent drop in July.

However, retail sales volumes remain ahead of pre-pandemic levels by 4.6 percent.

The drop in sales for August came as a surprise to analysts, who had forecast 0.7 percent growth for the month.

This marks the first time since 1996 that retail sales have declined for four consecutive months.

Jonathan Atho, the ONS’s deputy national statistician for economic data, said: “Sales fell again in August, though not nearly as much as in July, and overall, remained above their pre-pandemic levels.

“Other data suggests that the decline in food store sales is linked to an increase in eating out after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

“Meanwhile, motor fuel sales increased in the month as more people ventured out, but they remained below pre-pandemic levels.”

Food store sales fell 1.2 percent for the month, with many shoppers reverting to pre-pandemic habits.

It comes as data from Open Table showed an increase in restaurant reservations last month, while credit card providers highlighted a rebound in social spending.

Meanwhile, non-food stores reported a 1 percent drop in sales volume, partly driven by department stores, which saw a 3.7 percent decline for the month.

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Motor fuel sales rose 1.5 percent for the month as people continued to increase their travel volume, although it remained below pre-pandemic levels.

The ONS also highlighted that, in the two weeks to 22 August, around 6.5 percent of retailers said they were unable to obtain essential goods, goods or services due to supply chain challenges.

Department stores highlighted the biggest difficulties, with 18.2 percent of these companies insisting on the issues.

Meanwhile, 22 percent of food stores said they were able to get the products they needed, but would have to change suppliers or find alternative solutions.

Erin Brooks, Managing Director of European Retail and Consumer Practice, Alvarez & Marseille, said: “Today’s figures should remind retailers to start planning for Christmas, which may be one of the most exciting on record, especially in the past. Given the restrictions of the year.

“It will be important to understand consumer demands and strengthen agile and responsive supply chains, which are only as strong as their weakest link.

“Despite turbulent times, businesses must ask themselves how to strengthen and diversify their supply chains so that they can not only focus on immediate issues, but also protect their businesses in the future against long-term changes in consumer habits. can do.”

by Henry Secker-Clarke

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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