June sales “worst on record”

UK retail sales in June were the worst on record, as retailers struggled to compete with last year’s performance, due to weather and last year’s World Cup.

This is according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, covering the four weeks from 26 May to 29 June 2019, which saw total sales decrease by 1.3 per cent compared to an increase of 2.3 per cent in June last year.

This decline drags the three-month average into a decline of 0.1 per cent and the 12-month average to an increase of 0.6 per cent – the lowest since BRC–KPMG records began in December 1995.

In addition, UK retail sales in June decreased by 1.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis from the same month last year; this is lower than the three- and 12-month averages and represents the worst 12-month average since April 2012.

Elsewhere, online sales of non-food products grew by four per cent in June, against a growth of 8.5 per cent in June 2018.

Broken down by category, Household Appliances was ranked the fourth-best category in June in terms of total sales. In May, this was the top performing category.

For online sales growth rankings, this same category came in fifth place, when it was second place in June 2018.

“June sales could not compete with last year’s scorching weather and World Cup, leading to the worst June on record,” said Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium.

“Sales of TVs were down, with fewer impulse purchases being made. Overall, the picture is bleak: rising real wages have failed to translate into higher spending as ongoing Brexit uncertainty led consumers to put off non-essential purchases.

“Businesses and the public desperately need clarity on Britain’s future relationship with the EU. The continued risk of a No Deal Brexit is harming consumer confidence and forcing retailers to spend hundreds of millions of pounds putting in place mitigations – this represents time and resources that would be better spent improving customer experience and prices. It is vital that the next Prime Minister can find a solution that avoids a No Deal Brexit on 31 October, just before the busy Black Friday and Christmas periods.”

Paul Martin, Partner, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, added: “There are few places retailers can hide from the difficult trading conditions that have been hitting the industry for some time. June’s retail performance did little to ease that.

“On the high street, consumers largely turned a blind eye to offers in the physical retail space.

“With four per cent online growth, shoppers were thankfully more engaged in this channel, making the most of the added convenience and continued aggressive pricing.”