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Retail sales fall more than expected following Queen’s funeral

Tom Shearsmith
21 October 2022

High streets and supermarkets witnessed another sales slump last month as shops were knocked by customers’ continued cost-of-living concerns and closures for the Queen’s state funeral.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that UK retail sales volumes declined by 1.4% last month. The decline follows a 1.7% drop in August. However, it was notably worse than expected, after a consensus of economists predicted retail sales would only fall 0.5% for the month.

The ONS said food stores saw sales particularly drop, sliding by 1.8% in September, continuing a downward trend since summer last year when pandemic restrictions were eased on hospitality.

Non-store retailing (predominantly online retailers) sales volumes fell by 3.0% in September 2022. The ONS said that despite this fall, sales volumes were actually 18.0% above their February 2020 levels.

However, non-food stores sales volumes fell by 0.6% in September 2022 and are 2.7% below February 2020 levels. Clothing stores sales volumes rose by 0.1% in September 2022, mainly driven by growth in footwear stores.

Darren Morgan, ONS Director of Economic Statistics, said: “Retail sales continued to fall in September after a weak August, and consumers are now buying less than before the pandemic.

“Drops were seen across all main areas of retailing, with falling sales in food stores making the largest contribution. Retailers told us that the fall in September was partly because many stores were closed for the Queen’s funeral, but also because of continued price pressures leading consumers to be careful about spending.”

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