Retail sales growth slows in July amid heavy rain

The UK’s total retail sales increased by 1.5% in the four weeks to 29 July, against the 2.3% growth experienced in the same month last year. This was below the three-month average growth of 3.5% and the 12-month average growth of 3.9%, according to BRC data.

This lacklustre growth in July has been attributed to the mix of heavy rain across the country and high inflation forcing retailers to slash prices as a way to get consumers through the door.

As a result of discounts, like-for-like retail sales increased by 1.8% in July, against a growth of 1.6% in July 2022. However, this was still below the three-month average growth of 3.3% and the 12-month average growth of 3.6%.

Meanwhile, non-food sales decreased 0.5% on a total basis and 0.8% on a like-for-like basis over the three-months to the end of July. non-food sales were in a decline year-on-year and were also below the 12-month total average growth of 0.6%.

Food sales increased 8.4% on a total basis and 8.7% on a like-for-like basis over the three months to July. This was above the 12-month Total average growth of 7.8%. For the month of July, food was in growth year-on-year.

Over the three months to July, in-store non-food sales also increased 1.2% on a total basis and 0.8% on a like-for-like basis from July 2022. This was below the total 12-month average growth of 3.4%.

Online non-food sales decreased by 6.9% in July, against a decline of 3.9% in July 2022. This was steeper than the three-month average decline of 3.4% and the 12-month decline of 3.4%.

In addition, the proportion of non-food items bought online decreased to 34.7% in July from 35.3% in July 2022.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “The slowing pace of retail price inflation fed through into slower sales this July. While consumer confidence is generally improving, it remains below longer term levels. And with last week’s rise in interest rates pushing mortgage rates up ever higher, the government must get a handle on the economy.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “We are starting to see a big rise in the number of promotions that retailers are putting in place in order to get shoppers through the door, as they battle to keep market share.

“UK consumers have been hugely resilient throughout the cost-of-living crisis, but stubbornly high inflation coupled with rapidly rising interest rates will test their ability and willingness to keep on spending for the rest of this year.”

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