The latest research and analysis from the BRC

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The British Retail Consortium produces unbiased research and analysis on retail performance and the economic drivers influencing the British retail industry. The MIA’s Membership with the BRC gives us access to an expanded portfolio of content to share with our members. We’re pleased to share the headline statistics from 2 reports on shop price index and footfall for September 2021

The BRC & NielsenIQ Shop Price Index for September 2021

The BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index is a monthly measure of UK shop price inflation. The SPI measures changes in the price of 500 of the most commonly bought items. The report demonstrates the extent to which retailers contribute to inflation through the pricing of commonly bought goods. Here are the key findings for September 2021:

Summary:

  • Shop Price annual deflation eased to 0.5% in September compared to August’s decrease of 0.8%. This is a slower rate of decline than the 12- and 6-month average price decreases of 1.4% and 0.8%, respectively. This is the slowest rate of decline since January 2020.
  • Non-Food deflation slowed to 1.0% in September, compared to a fall of 1.2% in August. This is a slower rate of decline than the 12- and 6-month average price declines of 2.4% and 1.2%, respectively.
  • Following five months of deflation, Food prices rose by 0.1% in September, up from -0.2% in August. This is below the 12-month average price growth rate of 0.2% and above the 6-month average price growth rate of -0.3%.
  • Fresh Food prices fell for the tenth consecutive month in September, with deflation easing to 0.4% from a decline of 0.6% in August. This is above the 12- and 6-month average price growth rates of -0.6% and -0.9%, respectively.
  • Ambient Food inflation accelerated to 0.8% in September, up from 0.3% in August. This is below the 12- month average price increase of 1.3% and above the 6-month average price increase of 0.6%.

Commentary:

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium, said:

“September saw overall prices fall, but the decline is slowing. There are now clear signs the months-long cost pressures from rising transport costs, labour shortages, Brexit red-tape, and commodity costs are starting to filter through to consumer prices. Food prices rose year-on-year for the first time in six months, and some non-food products, such as DIY & gardening, are seeing the highest rate of inflation since summer 2018. Other product ranges, such as furniture and electricals, have also seen annual prices rise for consecutive months, which is indicative of unresolved shipping issues coupled with high demand.

“It is inevitable that prices will continue to rise, but Government intervention would minimise the impact on consumers. Supply chains have been put to the test recently, with CO2 and HGV shortages. Government needs to find a long-term solution to the HGV driver shortage by expanding the size and scope of the new visa scheme for drivers from abroad so they can fill the gaps while new British drivers are trained. Without this, these additional burdens to what is already a precarious trading environment, will affect the British consumer and the prices they pay for the goods they want and need.”

Mike Watkins, Head of Retailer and Business Insight, NielsenIQ:

Disruption in the supply chain and increased input costs are now starting to feed through and food prices increased slightly from last month. However low prices on seasonal fresh foods are helping to offset rising prices in ambient food. Whilst non food retailers have so far able to mitigate a lot of the impact, the outlook is for shop price inflation to return over the next few months.


The BRC-SENSORMATIC IQ Footfall Monitor for September 2021

Summary:

  • Total UK Footfall decreased by 16.8% in September (Yo2Y), with a 1.2 percentage point increase from August. This is above the 3-month average decline of 20.5%.
  • Footfall on High Streets declined by 22.6% in September (Yo2Y), 2.2 percentage points above last month’s rate and above the 3-month average decline of 26.9%.
  • Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 1.6% (Yo2Y), no change from last month’s rate and above the 3-month average decline of 9.1%.
  • Shopping Centre footfall declined by 35.6% (Yo2Y), 2.7 percentage points below last month’s rate and below the 3-month average decline of 35.1%.

Commentary:

Helen Dickinson OBE | Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium

While footfall at the start of September was strong, it slowed over the course of the month as increasing rainfall and ongoing fuel and supply issues convinced some consumers to stay home. The final week of September saw the worst total footfall levels since the last week of July this year, shortly after the last Covid restrictions were lifted, demonstrating the fragility of consumer confidence and how the economic recovery from Covid can be so easily undermined. Retail parks continue to perform better than other shopping destinations, with access to larger stores, parking, and petrol stations
As we approach Christmas, it is imperative Government takes further action to resolve the driver shortage which is increasing costs and creating delays throughout the supply chain. Retailers are trying to recruit and train thousands of new British drivers, but 5,000 visas are not enough to fill the gap in the short term. The Government should extend the visa scheme to help prevent customers facing significant disruption this Christmas.

Andy Sumpter | Retail Consultant – EMEA | Sensormatic Solutions

We saw a slight slowdown in September’s footfall recovery, which was particularly marked in the second half of the month as fears of fuel shortages prompted consumers to limit shopping journeys to essential trips.  However, while we saw a levelling off in shopper traffic counts last month, September still represented the highest recovery point compared to pre-pandemic levels yet this year, pointing to a steady, albeit marginal, upward trajectory even in spite of supply chain disruption and petrol shortages at the pumps.  And, the UK’s footfall recovery is far from tanking when we look across to our European counterparts – while shopper traffic in the UK is down 17% on pre-pandemic levels, the likes of France and Germany are still seeing footfall down by over a third.

Looking ahead, retailers will be counting on the Golden Quarter to capitalise on Christmas trade as the High Street’s recovery continues – and with our research showing 79% of consumers will start festive shopping between now and the start of December, October and November will be critical months to encourage shoppers back into store.


As a member of the BRC, the MIA can share the full reports with our members. If you would like to see either of these reports in full, please contact 
alice@mia.org.uk