The ONS said non-food store sales volumes in the UK fell 1.9% during the month because of falls in each of its subsectors: other non-food stores (negative 2.8%), department stores (negative 2.7%), household goods stores (negative 1.1%) and clothing stores (negative 0.6%).

UK retail sales volumes overall fell 1.6% in August. All main sectors (food stores, non-food stores, non-store retailing and fuel) fell over the month; this last happened in July 2021, when all legal restrictions on hospitality were lifted.

UK non-store retailing (predominantly online retailers) sales volumes fell by 2.6% in August 2022; despite this fall, sales volumes were 24.4% above their February 2020 levels.

Retail sales value (y-o-y) was up 3.7% but down 5% in volume terms.

Commenting on the latest figures, Helen Dickinson, CEO, of the British Retail Consortium, said volumes were down significantly as a result of inflation at 10%.

“Consumers cut back on major purchases, such as white goods, as falling real incomes made many people think twice. Retailers are working hard to keep prices down for their customers, despite their own costs rising substantially – including energy, imports, shipping and haulage.

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“The new Prime Minister must ensure the cost burden on retailers is not made worse by an GBP800m (US$911.5m) rise in business rates expected next year. Without action, it will not just be retailers – but also their customers, who pay the price of this rising tax.”

At the end of last week, UK retailer Primark warned profits could fall next year as a result of soaring energy prices and a squeeze on consumer disposable income.