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Sales rise online in August

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Internet sales rose in August, new figures out today show.

According to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, internet, mail order and phone sales rose by 17.8% last month, compared to August 2009.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said the figures confirmed online retailing’s leading position in the retail market. “This is a good figure.” He said. “A big improvement on the previous month and above the average for the last twelve months. But it’s compared with a very weak result last August, when internet sales growth slowed sharply.

“Even so, online growth continues to lead other forms of retailing. The rise of shopping habits such as researching and reserving at home then collecting in store, which blur the distinction between traditional and electronic retailing, are increasingly contributing to online retailing’s rapid growth.”

Total UK retail sales rose by 2.8% compared to last August, whie like-for-like sales showed a more modest 1.0% increase.

Clothing and footwear sales were stronger, as schools went back and autumn and winter ranges launched. Homewares were slightly ahead, though promotional deals were to thank for this. Food sales growth slowed slightly.

Robertson said: “The good news is sales are still growing but anxiety about job cuts and tax rises is putting people off making major spending commitments. Renewed weakeness in the housing market particularly affected the furniture and flooring sector.

“With the Government about to detail it cuts and a VAT rise in prospect, retailers will be hoping consumer confidence doesn’t slip over the next few months.”

Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Despite the recent improvement in consumer confidence, my view is that people remain worried about how they will personally be affected by the fiscal tightening measures. The impact on spending will become more apparent as we move into the higher volume autumn months.”

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