16 October 2017 - Janet Bird
New research paints a conflicting picture of the state of UK retail with footfall figures falling, but sales on the up.
The latest monthly Retail Traffic Index published by consultancy firm Ipsos Retail Performance showed a 6.9 percent fall from August to September in the number of people hitting the shops.
Compared to the same month last year, footfall was down 5.5 percent this September.
Conversely, the monthly retail sales monitor produced by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and auditors KPMG showed like for like sales had increased 1.9 percent between the end of August and the final days of September.
Total sales rose 2.3 percent in September - a percentage point higher than the same month in 2016.
Indeed, the BRC said last month's sales growth was the best since January 2016.
The main reason for this growth was, however, not good news for hard pressed consumers.
The BRC said food and clothing price increases, coupled with unavoidable spending on essentials, bolstered sales figures.
This was reinforced by the Ipsos study, which found consumers are becoming ever more cautious with their disposable income, thinking twice before buying big ticket items such as cars, furniture and electrical items.
Instead, they are focusing on buying essentials such as food and clothing items such as school uniform and winter coats - items which are seeing prices increase as a result of the depreciation of sterling.