Gifts Today magazine

Solid summer sales

Sunny weather boost for retail, with 1.1 per cent increase on previous year

Heavy promotions kept retail sales solid in sunny July according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, with a 1.1 per cent like-for-like increase on a year ago where there had been a 1.2 per cent rise on 2014.

In the strongest growth since January Brexit appeared to have little effect as total sales rose 1.9 per cent against the 2.2 increase from July 2015, while the three-month figures saw total UK sales up 1.1 per cent, in line with the 12-month average of 1.2 per cent.

BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said: “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. However, little has materially changed for most UK households since June 23, so it’s not surprising to us that sales are simply responding to their normal underlying drivers.

“A heavy month of promotions proved very successful in appealing to bargain-hungry shoppers, boosting sales growth to 1.9 per cent, ahead of the 12-month average of 1.2 per cent. The big question for retailers is whether that success can be carried forward into full price sales while 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, KPMG’s Head of Retail, KPMG, added: “The sun shone down on retail fortunes in July – the 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.

“The July heatwave put picnics and barbeques high on the agenda, lifting sales of food and drink back into the black. Meanwhile, fashion sales improved markedly versus June as well-timed promotions, holiday preparations and some sunshine prompted consumers to supplement their summer wardrobes. Sales of jewellery and watches also improved as international consumers took advantage of the weaker sterling to splash out on more expensive purchases.

“This first full month of retail sales figures post-vote suggests that UK shopping patterns haven't changed versus previous years. For retailers, plans to improve productivity remain top of mind to guard against recent increases to their cost base as well as making sure they can weather what are likely to be more uncertain times ahead.”


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