Retail sales edge up in first full month since lockdown measures eased

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Retail sales edge up in first full month since lockdown measures eased
"The fragile economic situation continues to bear down on consumer confidence, with some retailers hanging by only a thread in the face of rising costs and lower sales." - BRC CEO Helen Dickinson
// July retail sales up 3.2%, according to the latest Retail Sales Monitor
// This compares to 3.4% growth in June and 0.5% in July last year
// Overall non-food sales grew 7.9% while food sales increased 8.2%

Retail sales across the UK grew experienced a second consecutive month of growth in July, but shops are still trying to make up lost ground as the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of ending any time soon.

According to the latest Retail Sales Monitor from BRC and KPMG, sales increased by 3.2 per cent last month compared to an increase of 0.5 per cent in July last year.

However, July’s growth is a slight slowdown on the 3.4 sales increase recorded in June, when lockdown on non-essential retail had only just started to ease from the 15th of that month.


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Nonetheless, July’s total retail sales figure was above the three-month average growth of 0.4 per cent and the 12-month average decline of 1.9 per cent.

On a like-for-like basis, UK retail sales increased 4.3 per cent compared to July 2019, when they had increased 0.3 per cent from the preceding year.

Like-for-like sales this year was measured excluding temporarily closed stores but including online sales.

Over the three months to July, in-store sales of non-food items declined 29.3 per cent on a total basis and 11.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

However, overall non-food retail sales – when factoring in online transactions – increased by 7.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis and declined 4.3 per cent on a total basis.

For that same three-month period, food sales increased 8.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis and 6.1 per cent on a total basis, marking the highest since June 2009.

Meanwhile, online non-food sales surged 41 per cent in July, against a growth of 3.7 per cent in July 2019.

“July saw the second month of growth as lockdown measures eased and demand gradually began to return in some places,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“Many shops continued to struggle as footfall was down, with many people still reluctant to go out, and fewer impulse purchases.

“The strongest performance came from food, furniture and homeware, as consumers increasingly invest in their time at home, however, many shops, particularly in fashion, jewellery and beauty, are still struggling to survive.

“Online sales remained buoyant, slowing only slightly despite more shops reopening.

“While the rise in retail sales is a step in the right direction, the industry is still trying to catch up lost ground, with most shops having suffered months of closures.

“The fragile economic situation continues to bear down on consumer confidence, with some retailers hanging by only a thread in the face of rising costs and lower sales.”

KPMG head of retail Paul Martin said: “September will be the real test for retailers this quarter, traditionally being a month of high volumes driven by the return to school after the holiday season.

“That said, with the furlough scheme unwinding and wider economic uncertainty set for the autumn, consumer anxiety will likely rise along with it.

“This will place more scrutiny on disposable income and make life even tougher for retailers.”

with PA Wires

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