Retail sales question mark post Brexit

UK retail sales decreased by 0.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis from June 2015, when they had increased 1.8 per cent from the preceding year according to British Retail Consortium/KPMG figures.

On a total basis, sales rose 0.2 per cent, against a 2.9 per cent increase in June 2015, which had been the third best performance of 2015.

On a three-month basis, total UK retail sales rose 0.5 per cent, and 1.2 per cent on a 12-month average basis. This is the lowest 12-month average since May 2009.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "Retail sales grew in June, albeit with total growth slowing to 0.2 per cent. While sales did slow towards the end of the month, it is too early to define this as a trend. The month outturn was predominantly driven by a decline in sales in the fashion categories and isn’t a surprise given that June 2015 saw record growth in clothing and footwear. Looking across the last three months, food has held its ground with a better performance than non-food sales, which has seen its lowest growth since April 2012, largely due to fashion combined with a slowdown in furniture.

"Britain's retailers remain open for business. The EU referendum vote has not changed their relentless pursuit of delivering for customers day in, day out or their investment in meeting the needs of fundamental changes in the way people shop, driven by digital and technology. Despite the fall in the pound, the time it takes for any input price increases to translate into higher shop prices will depend on a combination of factors including further changes in the pound, commodity prices and the challenge for retailers to move pricing given the intensity of competition. So, there won’t be any instant shocks as any changes would take time to feed through."

KPMG retail head David McCorquodale said: "Overall retail figures decelerated in June, with sales down 0.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis. As consumer attention shifted indoors to escape autumnal downpours, furniture and home accessories bounced back in the month, with bigger ticket items proving relatively resilient in the days immediately following the EU referendum."

BDO said last week Brexit had hit retail spending.

In garden retail, GCA chairman Julian Winfield, of Haskins, said it had "not been a fantastic season on the back of two or three good springs in succession." He said sales had "flattened" since a record spike in May, though June was still Haskins’ second best after last year. Buying director Conna Powles said: "We look on the rest of the year as a challenge."

Online garden centre Primrose chief executive Ian Charles said: "Wonderful May, but April and June were tough – we’re blaming the weather for those. The last couple of weeks have been particularly slow – it could be weather /Brexit /Euro 2016."

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