According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), retail sales were up 6.5% this September compared to last year – despite the fact that on average, prices in store and online have fallen by around 3.6%.
Retail Week suggest that this growth was driven in part by online sales – as ecommerce transactions have increased by 15.2% year-on-year and were up 4.5% from the previous month.
Sources suggest that despite the promising figures, these sales were helped along by the fact that the August bank holiday was so late this year – the period used for data collection was taken from the 30th of August to the 3rd of October – meaning that the bank holiday weekend was included in these sales figures, making them slightly less accurate. It wasn’t included last year as the bank holiday was earlier – so although positive – the figures are not as precise as they might have been.
Speaking to Retail Week about these latest figures, Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at Deloitte agreed:
“With the addition of the late August bank holiday weekend, it is no wonder that September has seen bumper retail sales numbers.”
However despite ‘flattering’ the results by including the 2 extra days, sales are nonetheless, still growing and the ONS report confirmed that September marks the 29th consecutive month of growth in retail sales – so the future is still looking bright for some businesses.
Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays is excited about the continued level of growth, saying:
“September’s ONS retail statistics show that it was a really impressive month for retailers, accelerating August’s strong numbers.
“Hosting the Rugby World Cup provided a timely boost to sales and helped the industry set a solid platform for the all-important Christmas period.
“Retailers are now readying themselves for Black Friday and finalising their preparations for Christmas, and it’s clear from my conversations with clients that there is a growing optimism in the industry, with retailers increasingly hopeful that higher levels of disposable income resulting from recent drops in food and fuel prices will lead to a positive outcome in the season ahead.”
And Dan Wagner, founder and chief executive of Powa Technologies, agreed, although he suggests that retailers should not become complacent:
“We can expect sales to ramp up ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and of course, Christmas.
“However, retail sales figures have fluctuated this past year, so retailers must take steps to avoid being lulled into complacency.”
So, exciting times to be involved in retail, let’s hope sales continue to grow but that retailers keep on making those all important changes to both retail design and customer experience which continue to keep their offer fresh and keep on stimulating sales.