Warm weather and summer discounts drove UK retail sales to rise in July, potentially dampening fears that Brexit will affect consumer spending.
Sales climbed 1.1% year-on-year last month, with fashion sales improving markedly versus June as well-timed promotions, holiday preparations and some sunshine prompted consumers to supplement their summer wardrobes, according to the latest Retail Sales Monitor from the BRC and KPMG.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said last 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.
“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,” she said.
“A heavy month of promotions proved very successful in appealing to bargain-hungry shoppers,” she added.
“The big question for retailers is whether that success can be carried forward into full price sales. 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.”
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG commented: “Warmer weather helped blow away some of the post-referendum blues, boosting the UK feel good factor and giving consumers a sense that ‘life goes on’ following the initial shock of the Brexit vote.”