Retail sales up despite Brexit

Retail sales up despite Brexit

Retail sales are holding up after the UK’s decision to leave the EU, figures have revealed today.

Total high street sales increased by 1.9% in July in comparison to the year before, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KMPG’s latest survey, while like-for-like sales were up by 1.1%.

Helen Dickinson, c.e.o of the BRC, said that while the figures may come as a “shock” considering the gloomy forecasts following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, “little has materially changed for most UK households in the wake of 23rd June, so it is not surprising to us that sales are simply responding to their normal underlying drivers”.

She added: “Whilst retailers continue to monitor the situation in the wake of Brexit, responding to rapid and complex change in consumer behaviour in the midst of a highly competitive market remains the substantive challenge. The industry is in the process of productivity-enhancing transformation, but government needs to play its part to ensure that change is not suffocated by increasing costs.”

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said that the sunny weather had helped to boost sales, with people spending money holding barbecues and picnics, which “boosted the UK feel good factor and giving consumers a sense that ‘life goes on’ following the initial shock of the Brexit vote.”

He said: “This first full month of retail sales figures post-vote suggests that UK shopping patterns haven’t changed versus previous years. For retailers, plans to improve productivity remain top of mind to guard against recent increases to their cost base as well as making sure they can weather what are likely to be more uncertain times ahead.”

UK print book sales have also held up in July post-Brexit, with sales up 2.3% in value to £103.97m, and up 4.8% in volume to 13.42m books sold in July compared with July 2015. This figures are despite both E L James’ Grey (Arrow) and Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (Arrow) shifting in high numbers this time last year. The July book sales figures do not include sales of Jack Thorne’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Little, Brown).