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Back-to-school spending boosts retail sales

The high street dash for uniforms and childrens’ shoes in the back-to-school rush helped boost retail sales last month.
Retail sales rose by 1.3pc on a like-for-like basis in August compared to a 0.9pc drop the year before, according to fresh figures by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG.
Total sales also rose by 2.4pc last month, compared to a 0.3pc decline in August 2016.
“August provided a welcome pick-up in retail sales across channels, with non-food returning to growth as shoppers’ attentions turned to homewares, autumn clothing ranges and the new school term,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC.
“Retailers taught us a thing or two about ‘back to school’, with children’s clothes and footwear obtaining top-marks in terms of sales. Elsewhere, growth in home improvement sales – including furniture – point to the influence of staycations, although it could also be that home furnishing retailers are not having to compete with the likes of the Olympics for attention this year,” added Don Williams, partner at KPMG.
Back-to-school spending boosts retail sales

Shoppers in central London 
Food sales increased by 1.8pc on a like-for-like basis, helped by inflation, while non-food like-for-like sales increased by 0.6pc in August.
“These figures tell a less positive story about the health of consumer spending than it might seem at first glance”, said Ms Dickinson. “Non-food sales have only just recovered to levels seen two years ago, after a dismal August in 2016; while strong figures for food are largely the result of rising prices, leaving growth in volume terms weaker than last year,” she added.
Meanwhile, separate figures from Barclaycard revealed a slowdown in wider spending as consumers shifted away from splashing out on going to the cinema and pubs  in order to cover increased spending on clothing.
Consumer spending growth softened to 2.9pc year on year in August – below the 2017 average of 3.8pc – as Brits managed “the squeeze” of higher inflation and subdued wage growth by shuffling their purchasing priorities. A slump in entertaining spending, with growth retreating to 9.4pc from 12.5pc in July, contrasted with a 3pc rise in clothing spending.
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