UK retail sales rose in July

New figures show a rebound in UK retail spending in July.

The latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, released on Tuesday, shows that total retail sales increased by 1.9% compared with the same month last year. That?s up from the rise of just 0.2% in June, when bad weather added to uncertainty around the 23 June referendum on Britain?s membership of the European Union.

On a like-for-like basis retail sales rose 1.1% year-on-year in July, compared with a 0.5% fall in June.

?This month?s solid sales figures may come as a shock to some given the slew of early indicators suggesting that consumer activity was slowing in the wake of the referendum result,? commented Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

However, little has materially changed for most UK households in the wake of the referendum and sales are simply responding to their normal underlying drivers, Dickinson explained.

?A heavy month of promotions proved very successful in appealing to bargain-hungry shoppers, boosting sales growth to 1.9%, ahead of the 12-month average of 1.2%.?

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, added that warmer weather in July helped to ?blow away some of the post-referendum blues, boosting the UK feel-good factor and giving consumers a sense that ?life goes on? following the initial shock of the Brexit vote.?

A separate report from Barclaycard, released on Monday, found that spending in restaurants, pubs and cinemas continued to grow strongly in July. But it suggested that overall growth in consumer spending had slowed slightly to 2.6%, from 3.6% seen in May and June.

Paul Lockstone, managing director at Barclaycard, said:

?Softer spend growth in July was perhaps to be expected given the external economic and political context. While growth did slow, some categories performed well as consumers adopted a ?keep calm and carry on? approach, showing that they are still prepared to spend where it matters – enjoying quality time with friends and family.

?Our confidence research tells us consumers are cautious about their future spending plans, however, with nearly half not confident in their ability to spend more on non-essential items and one in three less likely to spend on big-ticket items. These are the first full month?s figures since the EU referendum, so it?s too early to say if this is the start of a long-term trend, but it seems likely consumers will be watching the external environment carefully ahead of any major spending decisions.?