BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor September 2014

BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor September 2014

UK retail sales down 2.1% from September 2013 which is the weakest performance since December 2008.

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  • UK retail sales were down 2.1% on a like-for-like basis from September 2013, when they had increased 0.7% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were down 0.8%, against a 2.4% rise in September 2013. This is the weakest performance since December 2008 excluding Easter distortions.
  • Clothing and Footwear were the worst performing categories in September, reporting record declines since April 2012 and March 2013, respectively.
  • Over the last three months, Food showed a decline of 1.7% and reported its first twelve-month average decline in at least five years, at -0.2%. Non-Food reported growth of 3.0% over the three months to September 2014, underperforming its twelve-month average of 3.6%
  • Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 8.2% in September versus a year earlier, when it had grown 13.4%. This was the lowest online growth since August 2013. The Non-Food online penetration rate was 17.5% in September, 1.3 percentage point higher than in September 2013.

Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "In September we saw the lowest retail sales figures since December 2008 excluding Easter distortions. This can be attributed to a number of factors including the continuing decline in food sales. Furthermore, there was exceptionally low demand for items such as boots and coats, resulting in the lowest fashion sales performance since April 2012. However, demand for big ticket items continues to be strong with furniture outperforming all other categories."

"Despite the testing environment last month there are encouraging signs for the industry as the build up to Christmas begins. Toys and beauty products sold well and sales are only expected to accelerate for these items around Christmas. As we approach Christmas, the search for talented seasonal staff has begun, to support the extra demand from shoppers. A large proportion of these seasonal roles will turn into permanent positions; proving that this time of year is great for those looking to begin a career in retailing."

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "The prolonged Indian summer wilted retail sales in September, leaving clothing retailers hot under the collar. Selling woolly jumpers in warm weather is a tough ask, even for the most talented of sales staff."

"After a bumper summer, this is a disappointing outcome for retailers and has undoubtedly reversed some of the sales gains made in August. However, if temperatures drop to a more seasonal level this cooler weather will quickly turnaround retailers’ fortunes and help them to sell their autumn winter ranges."

"The grocers had another challenging month, with further price cuts and promotions announced by most. With a rebasing of margins in the grocery sector throughout the year, this final quarter will see sales go to those who are most focussed on their customers."

"One warm September doesn't ruin a Christmas and retailers on the whole are on a firm footing as they enter the all-important final quarter. The winners will be those who have invested in their systems and carefully managed their stock levels to give themselves the best shot at a successful Christmas."

Food & Drink sector performance – Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive, IGD, said: "September’s exceptionally dry and warm weather wasn’t enough to improve on the previous month’s disappointing food and drink sales. It did however contribute to an excellent British wheat harvest, fitting a pattern of good cereal yields worldwide."

"This points towards continuing low food price inflation which would meet people’s expectations. Only eight per cent of shoppers predict food prices to become much more expensive over the next year, the lowest level since 2010."

"Food retailers will now look to take full advantage of Halloween, firmly established as one of the biggest occasions in the annual grocery calendar."



The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor measures changes in the actual value (including VAT) of retail sales, excluding automotive fuel. The Monitor measures the value of spending and hence does not adjust for price or VAT changes. If prices are rising, sales volumes will increase by less than sales values. In times of price deflation, sales volumes will increase by more than sales values.

Retailers report the value of their sales for the current period and the equivalent period a year ago. These figures are reported both in total and on a ‘like-for-like’ basis.

Total sales growth is the percentage change in the value of all sales compared to the same period a year earlier. The total sales measure is used to assess market level trends in retail sales. It is a guide to the growth of the whole retail industry, or how much consumers in total are spending in retail – retail spending represents approximately one-third of consumer spending. It is this measure that is often used by economists. Many retailers include distance sales as a component of total sales.

'Like-for-like' sales growth (LFL) is the percentage change in the value of comparable sales compared to the same period a year earlier. It excludes any spending in stores that opened or closed in the intervening year, thus stripping out the effect on sales of changes in floorspace. Many retailers include distance sales as a component of like-for-like comparable sales.

The like-for-like measure is often used by retailers, the city and analysts to assess the performance of individual companies, retail sectors and the industry overall, without the distorting effect of changes in floorspace.

Online (including mail order and phone) sales of non-food are transactions which take place over the internet, or via mail order or phone. Online sales growth is the percentage change in the value of online sales compared to those in the same period a year earlier. It is a guide to the growth of sales made by these non-store channels. It should be noted that online sales are still a small proportion of total UK retail sales. Estimates based on ONS figures show about 10 per cent of total UK retail sales (food and non-food) are achieved via the internet.

The responses provided by retailers within each sales category are weighted*(based on ONS weightings) to reflect the contribution of each category to total retail sales, thus making it representative of UK retail sales as a whole. Because the figures compare sales this month with the comparable period last year, a seasonal adjustment is not made. However, changes in the timing of Bank Holidays and Easter can create distortions, which should be considered in the interpretation of the data.

As well as receiving sales value direct from the retailers in the scheme the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor also receives food and drink sales value data from the IGD's Market Track Scheme.

In its role as sponsor of the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, KPMG is responsible for the aggregation of the retail sales data provided by the retailers on a weekly basis. This data consists of the relevant current week’s sales data and comparative sales figures for the same period in the prior year. The aggregation has been performed by KPMG on data for periods following 2 April 2000 and equivalent prior periods. The accuracy of the data is entirely the responsibility of the retailers providing it. The sponsorship role has been performed by KPMG since 10 April 2000 and the same for the aggregation of comparative sales figures for the period from 2 April 2000 it is not responsible for the aggregation of any data included in this Monitor relating to any period prior to 2 April 2000.

* The aggregation of data for the weighted ‘online’ figures has been performed by the BRC and KPMG for periods starting 25 November 2012 and equivalent prior year periods. Prior to that date, the online figures in this monitor refer to the unweighted non-food non store indicator, as published in the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor until July 2013.

The commentary from KPMG is intended to be of general interest to readers but is not advice or a recommendation and should not be relied upon without first taking professional advice. Anyone choosing to rely on it does so at his or her own risk. To the fullest extent permitted by law, KPMG will accept no responsibility or liability in connection with its sponsorship of the Monitor and its aggregation work to any party other than the BRC.

© Copyright British Retail Consortium and KPMG (2014). The contents of this report and those of all ancillary documents and preparatory materials are the sole property of BRC and KPMG and are not to be copied, modified, published, distributed or commercially exploited other than with the express permission of BRC or for the purposes of journalistic comment and review. All rights reserved.


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The October 2014 Monitor, covering the four weeks 5 October – 1 November, will be released at 00.01am Tuesday 11 November 2014.

The data is collected and collated for the BRC by KPMG.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is the UK's leading retail trade association. It represents the full range of retailers, large and small, multiples and independents, food and non-food, online and store based.

Sponsored and Administered by

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 11,500 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.8 billion in the year ended September 2013. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 155,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

Food Data Supplied by

IGD makes a difference by providing international market intelligence, supply chain best practice and consumer insight to the food and grocery industry worldwide.

We work with consumers, companies and individuals across the chain to provide authoritative information, insight, thought leadership and leading edge best practice to help companies grow their business and develop their people.

Detailed weekly data by category is available to retailers who contribute to the monitor:

If you would like to participate in the Retail Sales Monitor, please contact:

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This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.

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