School uniform buying boosts retail sales in August

File photo dated 6/12/11 of a shopper carrying shopping Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

File photo dated 6/12/11 of a shopper carrying shopping Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Retail sales rose in August helped by small shops enjoying a boost from school uniform buying and larger stores seeing an increase in online sales, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales by volume rose 0.2pc month-on-month in August compared with zero growth in July, revised down from 0.1pc.

Year-on-year sales registered a 3.7pc increase. The figures were stronger than expected by most economists.

ONS head of retail sales statistics Kate Davies said: 'UK retail sales continue to grow in 2015 but the figures show that growth is coming evenly from both small and large retailers, which both saw 0.9pc increases in August.

'Small stores were particularly boosted in August by sales of school uniforms, while most of the growth in large stores was coming from online.'

Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said: 'It's been another good month for retailers. The external environment wasn't the easiest, with volatility in the global economy naturally resulting in some consumers thinking twice before spending, so to have still achieved year-on-year growth is positive news for the industry.

'As we head towards the final quarter of 2015 the outlook remains strong, with low inflation and rising wages ensuring that consumers should have a good level of disposable income as we start the run in to Christmas.'

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The ONS said the 3.7pc annual increase was the 29th consecutive month of year-on-year growth.

The underlying pattern also remains healthy, with quarter-on-quarter sales up by 0.4pc.

Average store prices, including petrol stations, were down 3.3pc on August last year, the 14th consecutive month of year-on-year falls.

Keith Richardson, retail sector managing director at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: 'A second successive month of increased sales will have given retailers a much-needed fillip as they head into autumn and the long build-up to Christmas.

'The underlying trend, shown by sales in the three months to the end of August, continues to look very strong for retailers as a combination of low to no inflation and long overdue real wage rises finally turn into more sustained growth at the checkout.

'With the Rugby World Cup being held across Britain in September, retailers will be hoping that shoppers can muster one last late-summer spending spree before turning their thoughts to the vital festive period.'