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UK Retail Sales Report summary

September 2023

Period covered: Period covered: 30 July – 26 August 2023

3 minute read


Note: This report summary is one or two months behind the current month as standard reporting practice. The content is indicative only and incomplete with certain data undisclosed. Become a member to access this data or take out a free 30 day membership trial now.


Retail sales

Retail sales rose by xx% YoY in August according to the Retail Economics Retail Sales Index, against a xx% rise in the previous year.


Key factors impacted headline performance in the month:

Key events: The success of the Women’s World Cup and the release of the Barbie film fuelled sales of sportwear and pink outfits respectively.

Concentrated non-essential spending: Retail spend this summer is being displaced by areas previously missed out on during the pandemic, including holidays abroad.

Unpredictable weather: The strongest August storm in 30 years impacted sales of summer essentials.

Record pay growth: For a second month, the latest data shows earnings growth outpaced rising prices following a year and a half of real annual regular pay declines.

Rising rates: The Bank of England raised interest rate from 5% to 5.25% on 3 August, This was the fourteenth consecutive increase and the highest rate since April 2008, adding hesitancy to spend among those with mortgages and those that rely on credit.


Weather dampens summer sales

Retail sales improved in August compared to a dismal July, but remained impacted by unpredictable weather, strong inflation and a focus on holiday and entertainment spending over the peak summer month.

August in the UK is characterised by summer sales and back-to-school preparations towards the end of the month.

But holidays abroad and unsettled weather at home brought less urgency to invest in garden furnishings and BBQ equipment.

Usual summer sales patterns were disrupted by the strongest August winds in 30 years on the back of Storm Antoni hitting the UK in early August, followed by Storm Betty bringing heavy downpours and high winds in mid-August (Met Office).

Nonetheless, footfall across retail destinations edged up 0.2% in August from July as rainfall eased.

The gap from pre-pandemic footfall narrowed to xx% in August from xx% in July, (Springboard) as consumers retrench back to stores to embrace experiences, save on delivery and returns fees and seek local markdowns exclusive to stores.



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Inflation easing but retail volumes remain in decline

Source: ONS, Retail Economics analysis

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  • Overview of UK retail sales
  • Retail sales growth by category Y-o-Y
  • Online sales growth (Y-o-Y)
  • Retail sales by region (£m)
  • Total spend by sector
  • Weekly spend (£m)
  • Footfall stats by channel
  • External data source summaries
  • Regional weather data