These chart shows how UK retail sales have clawed their way back from the spring lockdown:
UK retail sales keep recovering
Despite the slide in consumer confidence, UK retail sales continue to recover from their slump earlier this year.
The Office for National Statistics reports that sales volumes swelled by 1.5% last month, compared to August, and were 4.7% higher than a year ago.
Over the last quarter, sales are a record 17.4% higher — and around 5.5% higher than before the pandemic started in February.
Spending on household goods has been particularly robust, with millions of office staff still working from home. But fuel and clothing sales are weak – again, with much fewer people commuting than usual, and rather less opportunity to socialise too.
Here are the details:
- In September 2020 retail sales volumes increased by 1.5% when compared with August; this is the fifth consecutive month of growth, resulting in an increase of 5.5% when compared with February’s pre-pandemic level.
- While food sales have done well in recent months as people have eaten out less, non-food store sales have now made a recovery at 1.7% above their February levels.
- In the three months to September, retail sales volumes increased by 17.4% when compared with the previous three months; this is the biggest quarterly increase on record as sales picked up from record-low levels experienced earlier in the year.
- In September, fuel sales volumes were still 8.6% below February with reduced travel as many continued to work from home, and clothing sales volumes were still 12.7% below February.
- Home improvement sales continued to do well in September with increased sales in household goods and garden items within “other” non-food stores.
- The proportion of online sales was at 27.5%, compared with 20.1% reported in February, despite small monthly declines across most of the retail sector.
Introduction: UK consumer confidences slides as storm clouds gather
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
UK consumer confidence has taken a nasty tumble, raising fears that the economy could go into reverse this winter as new Covid-19 restrictions are imposed.
Research company GfK has reported this morning that its index of consumer morale tumbled 6 percentage points to minus 31 in the first half of October. That’s the weakest reading since May, when the economy was recovering from its shutdown in March and April.
People are more pessimistic about the general economic picture, and their own personal economic outlook — with a wave of joblessness looming.
It indicates economic storm clouds are building, as Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, explains:
“There’s a worrying threat of a double-dip in consumer confidence as concerns for our personal financial situation and even deeper fears over the state of the UK economy drag the Index down six points this month. Despite low inflation and rock-bottom interest rates, a buoyant housing market and a raft of Government financial stimulus measures, the prospect of rising unemployment is severely depressing our outlook.
Worryingly, this data was collected before the new round of COVID-19 restrictions came into force and the end of the furlough scheme, so this will negatively impact the Index in the run-up to Christmas and the months beyond. Expect the autumn chill to give way to much stormier conditions.
Later this morning we discover how UK companies, and those across the eurozone, are faring this month.
The latest PMI surveys of purchasing managers are expected to show a slowdown this month as tighter Covid-19 restrictions are imposed.
- 7am BST: UK retail sales for September
- 9am BST: Flash eurozone PMIs for manufacturing and services in October
- 9.30am BST: Flash UK PMIs for manufacturing and services in October
- 2.45pm BST: Flash US PMIs for manufacturing and services in October