Summer retail spend still strong following the Brexit vote

Helen Cahill
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Food sales were particularly strong, the ONS said today (Source: Getty)

Retail sales edged downwards in August following the nation's bumper spending spree in July - but sales were more than six per cent higher than last year, indicating consumers were still happy to spend after the Brexit vote.

Excluding fuel, sales fell 0.3 per cent month-on-month in August, but sales were up 6.2 per cent on last year, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS said: "All store types except textile, clothing and footwear, and household goods showed growth with the main contribution coming from food stores.

"Despite a small fall after July's sharp increase, the underlying pattern in the retail sector remains one of solid growth. There was some variation between different sectors but overall the figures do not suggest any major fall in post-referendum consumer confidence."

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"Retail sales held up well in August after a buoyant July performance, and the underlying trend still looks robust," said Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight. "It therefore still looks likely that consumers have played a key role in keeping the economy growing following June’s Brexit vote."

Richard Lim, chief executive at Retail Economics said: "This latest data flies in the face of other survey evidence that suggested a slowdown in retail spending last month and appears a tad overly rosy. Anecdotally, retailers are suggesting conditions remain very challenging and spending volatile."

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