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UK retail sales suffer worst July on record

Christian Fernsby |
UK retail sales suffered their worst July on record, according to figures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG on Tuesday.

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Total sales growth came in at 0.3%, down from 1.6% growth last year. This was the lowest level recorded for July since records began in 1995. Meanwhile, like-for-like sales were up 0.1%, down from 0.5% the previous year.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "While retailers will welcome the return to growth, it has nonetheless been a punishing few months for retailers. The combination of slow real wage growth and Brexit uncertainty has left consumer spending languishing with the 12-month average total sales falling to a new low of just 0.5%.

"Whereas last year's glorious sunshine and World Cup Finals led to strong consumer demand over the summer, this year has been weak in comparison, with both June and July showing the lowest sales on record for their respective months. And it is not just high streets that are suffering, with non-food online growth also 1 percentage point below the 12-month average."

Dickinson said the challenging retail environment is taking its toll on many high street brands that are having to deal with rising import costs, public policy costs, and ever higher business rates.

"A coherent strategy for retail is needed. The Government should freeze future business rates rises and fix the appeals system before embarking on a wholesale reform of this broken tax system," she said.

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