Retail sales ‘hit by warm weather’ in September

Retail sales across the UK are expected to have fallen in September.
Retail sales across the UK are expected to have fallen in September.

A warmer-than-usual September is expected to have led to depressed retail sales across the UK.

Economists forecast the Office for National Statistics will report a 0.3% fall in retail sales in September on Friday, due to prolonged unexpected hot weather during the month.

Experts at Pantheon Macroeconomics said this is likely to have led to weaker clothing sales as more people delayed spending on refreshing their autumn wardrobe.

The period of hotter weather may have boosted food sales, but retail sales are expected to have followed a downward trend as a whole.

Nevertheless, coats and jackets are still expected to show an increase in sales volumes.

UK retail sales declined 1.4% year on year in August, which eased from a 3.1% drop in July. This marked the slowest rate of contraction in 17 months.

September’s reading is predicted to follow the trend of smaller declines.

Autumn weather September 10th 2023
Unexpected hot weather in September led people to delay spending on autumn clothing (Gareth Fuller/PA)

However, analysts from Investec forecast a small increase of 0.1% on the month in sales volume growth despite weakened consumer confidence.

The figure for retail sales excluding petrol is predicted to show a 0.2% increase, with a boost from the recent rise in fuel prices.

It comes as consumers have had less disposable income to spend at shops as a result of higher housing, rental and fuel costs.

Experts have also warned that shoppers are more likely to put off buying luxury items due to the volatile state of the economy.

Investec said “the heightened economic uncertainty and increased financial strain is likely to have deterred large ticket purchases”.

Higher interest rates have also put pressure on consumer budgets but economists have suggested this could ease as inflation comes down, with predictions that the Bank of England could start cutting rates by as soon as May next year.