Brexit fails to dampen retail spending, finds Office for National Statistics

Sales for the four week period from 3 July to 30 July 2016 - the month following the EU referendum - show the quantity bought (volume) of retail sales is estimated to have increased by 5.9 per cent compared with July 2015.

All sectors showed growth with the main contribution coming from non-food stores. Compared with June 2016, the quantity bought increased by 1.4 per cent. All sectors showed growth with the main contribution again coming from non-food stores.

Average store prices (including petrol stations) fell by 2.0 per cent in July 2016 compared with July 2015. Compared with June 2016, there was a fall of 0.8 per cent.

The amount spent (value) in the retail industry increased by 3.6 per cent compared with July 2015 and 1.6 per cent compared with June 2016.

The amount spent online increased by 16.7 per cent compared with July 2015 and increased by 1.2 per cent compared with June 2016.

Sales rebounded from a 0.9 per cent fall the previous month.

The Office for National Statistics said sales last month, while British goods were better value to tourists after sterling fell post-referendum.

Garden centre sales grew in July, early figures showed.

Joe Grice, chief economic adviser at the ONS, said of the latest retail sales figures: "These are strong numbers showing a pronounced increase in sales compared with last July. Better weather this year could be a major factor with sales of clothing and footwear doing particularly well. There is also anecdotal evidence from respondents suggesting the weaker pound has encouraged overseas visitors to spend. Department stores and specialist retailers like jewellers are among those reporting a good month."

Anna Leach, CBI head of economic analysis, said: "This data suggests that consumer spending remained resilient in aftermath of the referendum. Clothing retailers and department stores had a particularly good month, buoyed by better weather and a weaker pound encouraging tourists to spend.

"But looking ahead, we can expect weaker spending. The recent fall in the pound will push up the cost of everyday purchases over the coming year, which will eat into households’ spending power.

"To dispel uncertainty and keep business and consumer confidence up, it’s critical that the government sets out a clear plan and timetable for forthcoming EU negotiations. At the same time, firms will want to see progress on domestic policy priorities, like a new runway in the South East, and an ambitious Autumn Statement to spur growth."

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