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UK Consumer spending slumped during July finds retail sales monitor

UK consumer spending in the UK slumped during July, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson to renew calls to government action to freeze business rates to reduce pressure on retailers.

The monitor recorded overall sales growth of 0.3 per cent in July – compared to an increase of 1.6 per cent in the same period last year – which represents the lowest July growth figure since the monitor was launched in 1995.

Over the three months to July, in-store sales of non-food items fell by 4 per cent on a like-for-like basis, while like-for-like food sales fell by 1 per cent. Online non-food sales grew by 3.7 per cent during July, compared to growth of 7.5 per cent last year.

“While retailers will welcome the return to growth, it has nonetheless been a punishing few months for the industry,” says BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE.

“The combination of slow real wage growth and Brexit uncertainty has left consumer spending languishing with the 12-month average total sales falling to a new low of just 0.5%. Whereas last year’s glorious sunshine and World Cup Finals led to strong consumer demand over the summer, this year has been weak in comparison, with both June and July showing the lowest sales on record for their respective months. And it is not just high streets that are suffering, with Non-food online growth also one percentage point below the 12-month average.

“The challenging retail environment is taking its toll on many high street brands who must contend with rising import costs, a multitude of public policy costs, and ever higher business rates. A coherent strategy for retail is needed. The Government should freeze future business rates rises and fix the appeals system before embarking on a wholesale reform of this broken tax system.”

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