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Food sales were up 1.2% on a total basis, but below the 12-month total average growth of 1.7%

Brexit uncertainty continues to hamper shopping habits with total UK sales falling to a record low in the five weeks to 28 September.

Latest British Retail Consortium and KPMG data shows sales decreased by 1.3% against an increase of 0.7% on the same month in 2018 and a three-month average decline of 0.4%, making it the worst September since 1995.

Like-for-like retail sales shrunk by 1.7% in September from a fall of 0.2% in 2018 - the lowest 12-month average since August 2009.

In-store sales of non-food items dropped 3.2% on both a total and like-for-like basis over the three months to September - worse than the 12-month total average fall of 2.9%.

Food sales fared better, up 0.3% on a like-for-like basis and 1.2% on a total basis, but below the 12-month total average growth of 1.7% - the lowest since March 2017.

However, non-food retail sales in the UK decreased by 1.7% on both a like-for-like and total basis over the three months to September.

This was below the 12-month total average downturn of 1%, which is a new record low.

Online sales of non-food products grew 0.7% in September compared to 5.4% in September 2018, making it the worst result ever recorded.

BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said the spectre of no-deal was “weighing increasingly on consumer purchasing decisions”, adding it was no surprise sales growth had once again fallen into the red.

“Many consumers held off from non-essential purchases, or shopped around for the bigger discounts, while the new autumn clothing ranges suffered from the warmer September weather,” she said.

“The longer-term prospect continues to be bleak, with the 12-month average once again plumbing new depths at a mere 0.2%. Online non-food sales growth was the lowest on record, though still compared favourably to the decline in growth at physical stores.

“With four months of negative sales growth since March, the ongoing political gridlock surrounding Brexit is harming both consumers and retailers. Clarity is needed over our future trading relationship with our closest neighbours, and it is vitally important that Britain does not leave the EU without a deal.”

Paul Martin, KPMG UK head of retail, added: “Ongoing Brexit uncertainty is clearly having a material impact on the consumer psyche, with all but one non-food category being in decline in September. Consumers are choosing to focus on the essentials, with food one of the few categories delivering growth.

We will likely experience increased promotional activity to clear surplus stock, which doesn’t bear well for retailers desperately trying to make up for lost ground after several difficult months.”