BRC disputes ONS retail sales figures for second time

The British Retail Consortium is at odds with the Office for National Statistics figures again for showing “unexpected” resilient retail sales figures. This is the second time in weeks that BRC has disputed the National Statistics figures.

Last month also BRC slammed the ONS positive figures saying “few retailers will recognise the positive picture” (MW.co.uk August 21).

The latest ONS data shows that August’s total sales value was up 3.9% on a year ago, though BRC disputes this saying that the figures fail to convey how tough conditions are for customers and retailers.

The National Statistics figures are well above the weak 1.4% shown by BRC figures.

ONS year-on-year growth was higher in August than July – and it also reported an increase in year-on-year sales growth between June and July. The BRC’s Retail Sales Monitor shows it has been falling.

ONS does not measure like-for-like sales but BRC figures show sales down year-on-year for five of the last six months.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson says: “These unexpectedly resilient figures fail to convey how tough conditions are for customers and retailers. Plenty of retailers would be delighted if their sales values were up nearly 4% from a year ago.

“Fundamental conditions are weakening, not improving, and recent banking industry uncertainty can only make customers more nervous about spending. Yes, clothing and footwear sales growth has risen but that growth is modest and driven by discounts. It cannot be called strong and cannot explain ONS’ high overall figures.”

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