New figures from the British Retail Consortium show that retail sales grew at its fastest pace since January in the month of July.
Bolstered by warm weather, an influx of tourists taking advantage of the week sterling, and significant discounts, the statistics indicate that shoppers were perhaps not fazed by June’s Brexit referendum and continued spending despite the widely-reported economic uncertainty.
According to the BRC’s latest sales monitor – which was complied with KPMG – during the four weeks to July 30 sales increased by 1.1 per cent compared to the previous year in like-for-like terms.
On a total basis, sales rose 1.9 per cent, against a 2.2 cent increase in July 2015. Nonetheless, the BRC said this was the “strongest growth since January”.
Meanwhile, in the three month period from May to July, total UK retail sales rose 1.1 per cent, in line with the 12-month average of 1.2 per cent.
The new figures also come in line with other consumer spending data from Visa and Barclaycard, both of which showed that shopping, day trips and nights out were barely affected by the Brexit vote.
However, they clashed with a CBI survey that showed retail sales declined in July and a GfK poll which indicated a plummet in consumer confidence.
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“This month’s solid sales figures may come as a shock to some given the slew of early indicators suggesting that consumer activity was slowing in the wake of the referendum result,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
“However, little has materially changed for most UK households in the wake of June 23, so it is not surprising to us that sales are simply responding to their normal underlying drivers.
“Whilst retailers continue to monitor the situation in the wake of Brexit, responding to rapid and complex change in consumer behaviour in the midst of a highly competitive market remains the substantive challenge.
“The industry is in the process of productivity-enhancing transformation, but Government needs to play its part to ensure that change is not suffocated by increasing costs.”
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