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Shop sales fall for the fourth month in a row as eating out gets boost

Shop sales fall for the fourth month in a row as consumers switch their spending to going out










Sales in Britain’s shops fell for the fourth month in a row in August, as consumers switched their spending to restaurants, bars and events.

Retail sales slipped by 0.9 per cent, following a 2.8 per cent fall in July, marking the longest period of decline since records began in 1996, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

A large part of the fall was due to food store sales sliding 1.2 per cent as households started eating out again following the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

Hitting the town: Food store sales slid 1.2 per cent as consumers switched their spending to restaurants, bars and events

And department stores saw a particularly sharp 3.7 per cent decline.

Online shopping appears to be here to stay even following the end of lockdown. It now accounts for 27.7 per cent of the market.

The ONS suggested some of the slow-down may have been due to supply chain problems, as 6.5 per cent of retailers reported issues sourcing goods, services or materials. 

But retail sales were still 4.6 per cent higher than their pre-pandemic level, suggesting Britons are keen to spend the cash they have built up during lockdown.

ONS statistician Jonathan Athow said: ‘Sales fell again in August, though not nearly as much as in July and, overall, remained above their pre-pandemic level.

‘Meanwhile, motor fuel sales increased on the month as people ventured out more, but they remained below pre-pandemic levels.’

Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director at investment firm Fidelity International, said: ‘With fewer than 100 days until Christmas, retailers will be desperately hoping to see the boost in sales that traditionally goes hand in hand with the festive period.’

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