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PwC Comments on September 2021 ONS retail sales figures

22/10/21

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said:

“The headline flat retail sales numbers hide a multitude of sins. Not least with September’s spending patterns dominated by the petrol crisis, and the subsequent increase in fuel sales, which diverted attention away from the high street.

“Grocery and clothing sales saw some pick-up as families stocked up ahead of both back-to-school and back-to-the-office. However, most other categories declined slightly, with home and household goods sales actually dipping below pre-February 2020 levels for the first normal trading month since the start of the pandemic.

“Despite September’s slowdown, we are still confident about retail’s prospects ahead of the all-important Golden Quarter in the run-up to Christmas. Consumers still tell us that they have money in their pockets, with our most recent consumer sentiment survey ahead of the 2016-20 levels. Wage increases and lockdown savings should offset any short-term inflationary pressures. And, most importantly, people have told us that they plan to make Christmas more special this year after last year’s lockdowns and tier restrictions.

“In fact, there are already signs that consumers are bringing forward their Christmas present buying plans, due to concerns of product shortages. Online sales have continued to ease back from their lockdown highs. So, high street retailers will have their fingers crossed that October and November exceed expectations - and that they are able to source sufficient stock to meet pent-up demand.”

 

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