Formalwear & beauty boosts retail sales but growth slows

Retail sales grew in July, according to the (BRC and KPMG sales monitor, but still remained below pre-pandemic levels.
New data shows spending is up but at a slower rate than hoped,
// Retail sales continued to rise last month as formalwear & beauty regained popularity following the easing of restrictions
// Fashion sales returned to pre-pandemic levels as Brits began returning to the office

Retail sales continued to rise last month although according to new data, poor weather hampered the high street as shoppers stayed away.

The BRC and KPMG monthly sales monitor found that online sales remain strong with formalwear and beauty sales particularly high, as weddings and events could once again take place following the lifting of restrictions.

Fashion store sales returned to pre-pandemic levels although with staff starting to return to offices, sales of equipment for working from home fell, alongside furniture and household appliances.


Total sales in July were up 6.4 per cent year on year, although this is down on the three-month rolling average of 14.7 per cent.

Online sales slowed to growth of just 0.6 per cent in July compared with a year ago although in July 2020 online sales jumped 41 per cent as the height of the Covid-19 pandemic saw a dramatic shift in online orders..

The shift from shopping in stores was confirmed in data collected from Barclaycard, which showed that spending on entertainment saw growth for the first time since the pandemic began, as consumers returned to the theatre, cinema and sporting events.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “July continued to see strong sales, although growth has started to slow.”

“The lifting of restrictions did not bring the anticipated in-store boost, with the wet weather leaving consumers reluctant to visit shopping destinations.

“Online sales remained strong, and with weddings and other social events back on for the summer calendar, formalwear and beauty all began to see notable improvement, so fashion outlets in particular saw a bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.”

She also warned that the number of empty shops continue to rise and high streets require further investment, urging the government to implement wide ranging changes to the business rates system.

KPMG UK head of retail Paul Martin said: “Retail sales continued to grow in July, although at a slower rate as the reopening of the hospitality and leisure sectors led to a dilution in consumer spending.”

“Whilst the high street saw continued growth in July, with sales up 6 per cent, unsurprisingly online sales fell back – although less than expected by 0.4 per cent compared to July 2020. 

“Both women’s and men’s clothing continued their revival with strong growth in-store and online. Many other non-food categories had a less strong performance, especially those related with the home after the house moving frenzy of recent months started to abate. 

“With better weather and school holidays underway, consumers are happy to shop for clothes, shoes and accessories for those much needed social events.

“Over the coming months the health of the sector is expected to grow at a much slower rate as retailers face increasing challenges on a number of fronts. 

“Staffing pressures, increases in commodity and component costs, rising inflation eating into households’ spending power and stalling consumer confidence could lead to a slowdown in retail sector growth as we head into autumn.”

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