Weather and web boost July retail sales

Retail sales increased in the month following the Brexit result, with the unusually warm weather also believed to have helped boost takings.

Online was also a key driver for growth, increasing 16.7 per cent in July compared with the same period a year ago. Online sales were also up 1.2 per cent on June, according to new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The amount spent online accounted for 14.2 per cent of all retail spending – excluding fuel – compared with 12.6 per cent in July 2015.

Total sales in July were estimated to have increased by 5.9 per cent compared with the same period last year. All sectors showed growth, but the main contributor was non-food stores.

The quantity bought over all retail sectors also increased by 1.4 per cent when compared with June. Again all sectors showed growth with the main contribution coming from non-food stores.

Goods purchased in predominantly non-food stores rose by 5.6 per cent in July, while food stores did not do so well, with an increase of 4.1 per cent.

Average store prices – including petrol stations – fell by two per cent compared with July 2015 and were down 0.8 per cent on June 2016.

The amount spent in the retail industry in the four-week period during July increased by 3.6 per cent to £29.6 billion, compared with July 2015, and was up 1.6 per cent on the previous month.

Patrick Munden, head of marketing and communications at global e-commerce consultancy Salmon, said: “We have seen a significant rise in online sales in July, with the average weekly spend increasing by 16.7 per cent to £963.8 million, compared with the figure in July 2015 which was £827.1m. The ONS statistics also highlighted a month-on-month increase in online sales, with July boasting a 1.2 per cent increase on June, reinforcing the rise of online and mobile shopping across the year and not just the usual peak trading periods.

“Last year’s Black Friday was when we saw a real shift in consumer attitudes, and online shopping is becoming increasingly favoured among consumers as the go-to, trustworthy platform. If retailers are to keep abreast of this wave, they need to react to the market and digitise their whole business strategy – mobile, tablet and other devices.

“Retailers that are online, but maintain a high-street presence, need to ensure they provide consumers with a successfully integrated multichannel offering. They need to provide immediate services like click and collect, have fully operating online sites, and everything must draw back to a robust digital strategy. Otherwise, retailers risk losing consumers, brand trust and market share to more digitally-savvy competitors.”