June UK retail sales “worst on record”

Published on: July 10th, 2019

Latest findings increase concerns over the health of the high street, as online sales increase while physical sales decline. 

Total sales for June fell 1.3% year-on-year in June, compared with a year-on-year increase of 2.3% in June 2018, according to the monthly retail sales monitor from the British Retail Consortium, the industry lobby group, and the consultancy KPMG.

“Overall, the picture is bleak,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC. “Rising real wages have failed to translate into higher spending as ongoing Brexit uncertainty led consumers to put off non-essential purchases.”

Like-for-like sales, which account for events such as shop openings and closures, fell 1.6% in June compared with the same period in 2018. Average like-for-like sales in the 12 months to June fell to minus 0.1%, the lowest rate since April 2012.

The survey pointed to a drop in sales of goods such as garden furniture and barbecues, as well as impulse purchases. Like-for-like sales, excluding food, dropped 2% in the three months to June.

The subdued June figures are partly the result of the comparison with uncharacteristically strong growth in the same month last year, when warm weather and the men’s football World Cup boosted food sales.

The data raise concern for the health of the British high street, with non-food in-store sales in the three months to June falling 4.1% on a like-for-like basis. By contrast, online retail sales, excluding food, grew 3.3% over the same period.

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