Last month was the worst July on record for retail sales growth, according to new data published today in the latest blow for the struggling industry.
Total sales growth was 0.3 per cent in July – compared to an increase of 1.6 per cent last year- the lowest level recorded for the month since records began in 1995.
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The slump was driven by falling retail sales at bricks and mortar stores, not including food purchases, which declined four per cent on a like-for-like basis in the three months to the end of July.
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium chief executive, said: “The challenging retail environment is taking its toll on many high street brands who must contend with rising import costs, a multitude of public policy costs, and ever higher business rates.
“A coherent strategy for retail is needed. The government should freeze future business rates rises and fix the appeals system before embarking on a wholesale reform of this broken tax system.”
Online retailers also struggled during the month as non-food sales growth slumped from 7.5 per cent in July 2018 to 3.7 per cent last month, according to the latest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG.
Meanwhile data from Barclaycard showed that consumer spending in department stores contracted by 3.9 per cent last month.
Sales in leisure items such as cinema tickets and meals out, which grew 14.8 per cent and 10.1 per cent respectively, helped boost overall spending. However, total spending growth for the month was just 1.7 per cent, Barclaycard said, following consumer spending growth of 1.1 per cent and 0.9 per cent in May and June