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UK retail sales boosted by weather in July

Sales in the UK improved in July by 2.3%, says the British Retail Consortium and KPMG.

Sales on a like-for-like basis grew by 1.6%, while in-store sales of non-food items increased by 2% on a total basis from July 2021. Meanwhile, online non-food sales in July fell by 3.9%, compared to a decline of 0.6% in July ’21.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, commented: “Sales improved in July as the heatwave boosted sales of hot weather essentials. However, with inflation at over 9%, many retailers are still contending with falling sales volumes during what remains an incredibly difficult trading period.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail, KPMG, added: “With stronger cost of living headwinds on the horizon, consumers will have to prioritise essentials, and discretionary product spending will come under pressure. As margins continue to be challenged, and costs continuing to rise, a significant drop in demand come the autumn will have detrimental impact on the health of the retail sector.”

Consumer confidence also increased in July, following seven months of decline. A YouGov and consultancy Cebr poll showed that the overall consumer confidence index rose two points in July. The increase possibly reflects the introduction of support payments for low-income households.

Kay Neufeld, head of forecasting at Cebr, said: “While the first cost-of-living payments have started to arrive, questions remain regarding the type of support households can expect over the coming months, with the energy price cap set to rise to new record highs.”

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