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Online retail thrived while high street struggled in September

09 October 2013 - 12:19 by Simon Crisp

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The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), reveal that while e-commerce sales continued to experience strong growth last month, things were not so positive for high street outlets.

Looking at the UK retail sector as a whole, sales rose by 0.7 per cent, year on year, in September, with small increases in purchases of consumer electronics and leisure items recorded. Grocery products actually took a hit with a real terms decline in sales.

Things were looking up for retailers offering shopping online, as the BRC found that web-based sales increased by 13.4 per cent last month, when contrasted with sales in September of 2012.

Spokesperson, Helen Dickinson, said that September saw the most sluggish growth in the retail sector so far in 2013. Even with the demand for back-to-school items, retailers struggled to get people to part with their cash, especially on the high street.

Dickinson also explained that safe shopping online was once again able to buck the trend and deliver double digit growth. In fact, if the web's sales are not included in current figures, then the UK retail market would actually have been in decline last month.

The Christmas period is closing in and high street retailers are preparing for it by recruiting extra staff, according to Dickinson. However, there is no guarantee that 2013's festive season will be another bumper one for bricks and mortar outlets, as more people than ever are expected to buy most of their gifts online.

The weather has had an impact on retail sales this autumn, since the persistent warm weather in September and October has meant that sales of winter clothing and products are down. Consumers remain cautious in the current climate, both economical and meteorologically speaking, which makes e-commerce more attractive.