August Food Sales: Light at the end of the tunnel?

August Food Sales: Light at the end of the tunnel?

The fall of the Bank Holiday into the September period this year distorted the figures of the back-to-school-sensitive categories.

Also on

  • UK retail sales decreased 1.0% on a like-for-like basis from August 2014, when they had increased 1.3% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 0.1%, against a 2.7% rise in August 2014.
  • In the three months to August, total Food sales were up 0.3%. The twelve-month average total Food growth turned positive for the first time since August 2014. Non-Food sales declined in August, for the first time since August 2014.
  • The fall of the Bank Holiday into the September period this year distorted the figures of the back-to-school-sensitive categories. Clothing, Footwear, Stationery, Furniture, Household Appliances experienced declines.
  • Online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 6.5% in August versus a year earlier, when they had grown 19.8% and established the 2014 best performance. This was the slowest growth registered since April 2013. The Non-Food online penetration rate was 17.2%, up from 16.3% in August 2014.

Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “There was better news for food sales this August with a clear improvement compared with July. This, coupled with a positive twelve month average for the first time since August of last year, suggests there may be cause for optimism for food sales following a prolonged period of stagnation.

“While non-food sales over the last three months are up three per cent overall, they were down in August. However the figures were likely distorted by the fact that they do not include the Bank Holiday which will be accounted for in the September period this year. At this time of the year parents are busily shopping for back-to-school essentials like clothes, footwear and stationery and those sales will peak later this year. Large ticket item categories like furniture and household appliances also experienced a decline in sales, again likely affected by the Bank Holiday distortion.

“Retailers will hope to recoup that sales deficit in September and to start feeling the effect of higher real wages.”

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: “As the summer bank holiday fell a week later this year, sales were pushed into September meaning top-line trends for August were inevitably dampened (along with the weather) versus 2014.

“Overall, August sales were down 1% on a like-for-like basis with fashion and footwear hit particularly hard as families delayed back-to-school purchases and wet weather deferred the impetus to shop. Furniture spending also fell due to the timing of the bank holiday.“The grocers however, fared slightly better, with total food sales showing a positive direction of travel over the three months from June.

“September sales will get a shot in the arm from the bank holiday and the comradery of the Rugby World Cup. However, the fashion world will be hoping that last year’s ‘Indian summer’ does not repeat itself, resulting in heavy discounting to move seasonal items.”

Food & Drink sector performance – Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive, IGD, said: “August’s food and drink sales delivered the best year-on-year uplift since December 2013, excluding the Easter distortions. This offers encouragement, despite the figures being up and down all year. No clear trend has yet been established and the future rests in the balance.

“The deciding factor will be shopper sentiment and the signs here are promising. The gap between shoppers prioritising price (46 per cent) and those prioritising quality (44 per cent) is the smallest we’ve ever tracked.”


- ENDS - 


Notesto Editors:

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.Covering the four weeks 2 – 29 August 2015


For media enquiries please contact:

British Retail Consortium

21 Dartmouth Street

London, SW1H 9BP

T: +44(0)207 854 8900

Media: +44(0)207 854 8924




15 Canada Square

London, E14 5GL

Jessica Liebmann, KPMG Corporate Communications

T: +44 (0)207 311 3245

M: +44 (0)7551 135 778


KPMG Press office: +44 (0)207 694 8773

Follow us on twitter: @kpmguk


The September 2015 Monitor, covering the five weeks 30 August – 3 October, will be released at 00.01am Tuesday 13 October 2015.

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 12,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.9 billion in the year ended September 2014. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 162,000 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:

Anne Alexandre

T: +44 (0)207 854 8960


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

Connect with us


Request for proposal



KPMG’s new-look website

KPMG’s new-look website