UK retail sales down in June

Sales on Britain?s high streets declined in June, but it?s too early to say whether shoppers were affected by the EU referendum.

That?s according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which on Tuesday released new BRC-KPMG figures showing a 0.5% decrease in UK retail sales on a like-for-like basis compared with June 2015. Sales rose 0.2% on a total basis.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson noted that sales slowed towards the end of the month, around the time of the referendum, but said it is too early to define this as a trend. The drop in sales was primarily triggered by lower fashion sales which Dickinson said ?isn?t a surprise given that June 2015 saw record growth in clothing and footwear?.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, explained the key factors behind June?s retail sales figures:

?Overall retail figures decelerated in June, with sales down 0.5% on a like-for-like basis. As consumer attention shifted indoors to escape autumnal downpours, furniture and home accessories bounced back in the month, with bigger ticket items proving relatively resilient in the days immediately following the EU referendum.

?With May sunshine a distant memory, however, summer wardrobes remained bare as sales of women?s fashion and footwear plummeted following one of the wettest and dullest starts to a UK summer since records began.

?Elsewhere, Euro 2016 kicked things into gear a bit for the grocers, with sales improving 0.8% in the three months April-June. However, the decline on a like-for-like basis suggests food and drink sales continue to be dragged down by the deflationary tide in the sector.

?While the ramifications from the Brexit vote may well affect consumer confidence, retailers will be hoping the long-promised heatwave and potential stay at home holidays will be enough to drive shoppers back to the high-streets over the months ahead.?

Overall, online sales continued to climb in June, albeit at a slower rate. The BRC reported that online sales grew in all categories except footwear, and increased their share of total non-food sales as sales at bricks and mortar stores slipped further into negative territory.

Dickinson said that the latest figures ?re-emphasise the need for physical stores to be a destination for retail experiences rather than specifically and solely for the sales transaction itself.?

Referring to the referendum result, the BRC chief executive said that Britain?s retailers ?remain open for business? and there are unlikely to be price rises in the near future, despite the fall in the pound.

?The time it takes for any input price increases to translate into higher shop prices will depend on a combination of factors including further changes in the pound, commodity prices and the challenge for retailers to move pricing given the intensity of competition. So, there won?t be any instant shocks as any changes would take time to feed through,? she said.