Quantities bought in the retail industry in July have increased by 1.1 per cent compared with June this year as figures remained positive for the third consecutive month, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS.)
Within the food sector, the amount spent by consumers rose by 5.7 per cent as the recent heatwave drove sales of alcohol, food, outdoor items and clothing, despite food prices rising by 3.4 per cent compared with July 2012. The amount spent was the highest growth since September 2011.
“The recovery is building momentum,” said Ian Geddes, UK head of retail at Deloitte.
“This is the third consecutive month-on-month rise and while we do not expect a return to pre-recession levels of consumer spending growth, there are increasing signs that purse strings are just beginning to loosen.”
The ONS figures, which are based on a monthly survey of 5,000 retailers, announced a sharp 2.5 per cent rise in supermarket sales as the average weekly spend increased to £7bn in July 2013 compared to £6.7bn in July last year.
Peter Saville, partner at advisory and restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper said that the picture on the ground remained mixed with many high streets and companies still struggling.
“In contrast to the positive economic indicators, earnings, unemployment and interest rates remain unchanged – as does the squeeze on consumer spending. With summer beginning to wind down, retailers need to work towards a sustainable recovery by overhauling their business models, product offering and customer experience.”
Encouraging growth included online sales which have grown by 10.7 per cent compared with July last year to an average spend of £586.6m. The amount spent online now accounts for 9.5 per cent of all retail spending, excluding fuel.
Department stores saw the biggest growth in year on year growth with a 25.9 per cent online sales jump. But household goods online sales shrunk by 5.6 per cent as customers opted for an in-store experience.