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Market Commentary

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Weekly Retail & Leisure News - 17 October​​​, 2016​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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Retail sales up, but cost pressures increase

Retail sales rose by 0.4% in September, on a LFL basis, compared with a 0.9% fall in August, according to the BRC. The figures show a return to sales growth, primarily driven by stronger food sales which saw their highest increase since November 2013. Sales growth was capped by warm weather, including the hottest day in September since 1911, which dented appetite for several products, including autumn clothes, flu medicines and duvets. The small recovery in sales follows recent news that leisure has boosted household spending and consumer confidence continues to recover, but it remains too soon to judge the full impact of the June referendum result on retail spending.

The immediate impact has been a steep fall in the value of the pound, which will inevitably lead to price rises and increase the pressure on margins, as retailer's hedges against currency fluctuations come to an end. The first signs of this was last week’s public stand-off between Tesco and Unilever; it is unlikely that this will be the last dispute between retailers and suppliers.

However, the fall in the value of sterling has also successfully attracted international tourists to the UK retail market recently. Harvey Nichols has reported a surge in overseas shoppers not just in London but in Manchester and Edinburgh as well. Elsewhere, Westfield London has observed that spending by overseas shoppers has risen by 70% since a year ago. In addition, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry have also all reported positive sales rises in the past week.

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