Retail sales down, but too soon to assess Brexit impact

UK retail sales decreased by half a per cent in June compared with the previous year, but it is too soon to assess whether this has been caused by the Brexit vote, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor found that sales growth in June had increased by only 0.2 per cent compared with a 2.9 per cent increase in June 2015.

Over the past 12 months, total UK retail sales rose 1.2 per cent, which is the lowest 12-month average since May 2009.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson (pictured) 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.

“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.”

Meanwhile, online sales are still showing strong performance. Online sales of UK non-food products grew by nine per cent in June compared with the previous year.

According to the BRC-KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor In the three months to June, online non-food product sales in the UK increased 9.7 per cent year on year.

However, over this same period physical store sales declined 1.9 per cent in total and 2.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis, which was the steepest decline since the monitor began in December 2012.

In June 2016, online sales represented 20.6 per cent of non-food sales compared with 19.8 per cent in June 2015.

Ms Dickinson added: “Online sales growth slowed to nine per cent this month. While lower than last month’s growth, it remains a solid performance, considering that June 2015 had recorded the best growth of that year.

“While online clearly remains the primary driver of sales growth for UK retailers, shoppers are no longer thinking in channels and are more and more often using both digital and physical stores as part of their customer journey from initial consideration to the actual transaction. Today’s figures re-emphasise the need for physical stores to be a destination for retail experiences rather than specifically and solely for the sales transaction itself.”