May 29, 2023

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UK retailers step up their discounting in August, BRC says

FILE PHOTO: People queue to enter into a Selfridges store in front of a sign advertising sales, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Oxford Street in London, Britain, July 18, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) – British retailers discounted their goods a bit more aggressively in August than in July as they sought to get customers back after the coronavirus lockdown earlier in the year, industry data showed on Wednesday.

Average shop prices in August were 1.6% lower than a year before, compared with a fall of 1.3% in July and a record 2.4% tumble in May, the British Retail Consortium said.

August’s fall was driven by bigger price declines of 3.4% for non-food prices, compared with a 2.9% drop in July.

“Many retailers have continued to run promotions and sales in order to entice customers to spend and make up for lost ground during lockdown,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

The availability of fresh, seasonal produce allowed food inflation to ease to 1.3% in August, down from 1.5% in July, Dickinson said.

Figures from the Confederation of British Industry published last week showed an unexpected weakening of retail sales in the first half of August, raising concerns that a bounce-back in consumer spending after the lockdown might be short-lived.

The BRC shop prices survey was conducted between Aug. 3 and Aug. 7.

Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce

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