Retail sales mixed in July

SPENDING on home improvements and seasonal clothing clearances boosted retail sales in July. According to figures published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) today, retail sales values rose by 1.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared to the previous July.<br /><br />On the three-month weighted average of May to July, like-for-like retail sales values rose 0.8 per cent on the previous year. Food retail sales values rose 4.2 per cent while non-food fell 1.4 per cent.<br /><br />However, food sales growth slowed, partly reflecting lower inflation from more stable commodity prices and also a stronger pound, which has reduced import prices.<br /><br />Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: &ldquo;The largely cooler, wetter second half of the month turned attention indoors helping sales of furniture and homewares &ndash; which have been under pressure throughout the downturn.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;There are some signs that people are using holidays to improve their homes rather than spending on going away,&rdquo; he added.<br /><br />Clothing sales, which had done well in June&rsquo;s hot weather, fell back to just below their July 2008 level. While seasonal clothing clearances did well early in the month, new autumn collections made a good start in the wetter second half of July, the BRC noted.<br /><br />Purchases made on the internet or over the phone grew 20 per cent year-on-year, up from the 16.8 per cent recorded in June.<br /><br />However, the BRC points out that the expansion is from a very low base as this non-food non-store category only accounts for four per cent of total retail sales.