Books continue to buck the national retail trend, with sales up 8.9% year-on-year in volume in August in comparison to the year before, where total UK retail sales were down 0.9% in the same period.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has released the UK’s retail sales performance for August, with total sales falling 0.3% in comparison to the same month in 2015. Like for like sales, meanwhile, were down 0.9%.
David McCorquodale, head of retail for KPMG, said the results were “disappointing” considering total high street year-on-year sales were up 1.9% in July, a pleasant surprise considering the month followed the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, which was widely expected to have a negative impact on sales.
However, booksellers continue to buck the national trend, with print sales up 8.9% up in volume to 13.9m in August in comparison to the same month a year earlier, and 14.5% up in value to £111.6m on August 2015, according to Nielsen BookScan.
Harry Potter and Cursed Child playscript (Little, Brown), written by Jack Thorne with help from J K Rowling, has helped to stimulate the boost, with the title currently enjoying its fifth week atop the UK book chart, selling 1,192,004 print copies to date for £12.78m.
The BRC has suggested that the Olympics in Rio could have distracted the nation from shopping on the high street and may be responsible for lower general retail sales.
Helen Dickinson c.e.o of the BRC, warned against “reading too much” into August’s general "lacklustre" performance on the high street in the wake of the Brexit decision.
“As we’ve seen in the last couple of months, data portending the health of the economy paint a volatile picture,” she said. “The fact is that so far little has directly changed for the UK’s consumers as a result of the referendum, so it’s the pre-existing market dynamics that are still driving sales. The slowdown in real wage growth in the first half of 2016 and strong competition will continue to weigh on trend growth in total sales; whilst holiday timings, promotional and seasonal activity will contribute to fluctuations month on month.”