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UK retail sales growth slows in September

British retail sales in September rose at the slowest rate since October 2017, the British Retail Consortium-KPMG sales survey showed, as consumers continued to restrain spending after a summer of spending.

Total sales in September edged up 0.7% compared to an increase of 2.3% in September 2017. "This is the lowest since October, excluding Easter distortions, and below the three-month and 12-month averages of 1.2% and 1.3% respectively," the survey noted.

"Shopper confidence has followed a downward path with those expecting to be financially better off over the year ahead dipping from 26% in July to 22% in September," said Jon Woolven, IGD's strategy and innovation director. "Brexit-related uncertainty probably plays a part in this, so retailers will be hoping for a clear resolution ahead of the Christmas shopping season."

Retail sales on a like-for-like basis were down 0.2% from September 2017, when they had risen 1.9% from 2016. Over the three months to September, in-store sales of nonfood items fell 4.0% on a like-for-like basis.

Food sales over the three months to September rose 2.3% on a like-for-like basis, falling below the 12-month total average growth of 3.7%. Nonfood retail sales dropped 1.6% on a like-for-like basis, in line with the 12-month average decrease of 0.5%.

Online sales of nonfood products edged up by 5.4% in September against a 10.7% growth in September 2017. This reflects the lowest rise since January and below the 3-month and 12-month averages of 6.7% and 7.1%, respectively. Online penetration rate increased to 24.2% from 22.7%.

"A tax system skewed towards high taxes on people and property is contributing to stores closures and job losses and is stalling the successful reinvention of our high streets," said British Retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson.

"The government urgently needs to reduce the business rates burden and create a tax system fit for the 21st century that more fairly distributes taxes right across the economy."