'Spectre' of no-deal Brexit blamed as retailers see worst September

7 October 2019, 16:23 | Updated: 7 October 2019, 17:10

Britain's retailers have suffered their worst September on record, according to industry figures, with the "spectre" of a no-deal Brexit blamed for weighing on consumer spending.

The report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said total sales were down 1.3% on the same period last year as shoppers held back on non-essential purchases.

Mild September weather was also a factor - dampening demand for autumn fashion ranges.

The BRC said the headline sales decline was the worst since its records began in 1995.

On a like-for-like basis, sales fell by 1.7% - the worst September on this measure since 2014.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "With the spectre of a no-deal weighing increasingly on consumer purchasing decisions, it is no surprise that sales growth has once again fallen into the red.

"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."

Separate data from Barclaycard - covering nearly half the UK's credit and debit cards - also pointed to a subdued picture for retail.

But there was growth in spending on entertainment and nights out, helping overall consumer outlay grow by 1.6% year-on-year.

Barclaycard also recorded a continuing trend for stockpiling with one in eight already buying food and drink ahead of Christmas in case of shortages according to the report.

The figures come after supermarkets Asda and Morrisons as well as B&Q; owner Kingfisher said that uncertainty around Brexit was affecting their customers.

However fashion retailer Next has said that the warm start to the autumn had been the bigger factor in holding back sales.