Post-Brexit spending slump just a ‘blip’, says BRC

Online sales of non-food products continued to grow in July, but in-store takings fell, according to the latest figures.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the brief post-Brexit drop-off in consumer spending was just a ‘blip’ as consumers quickly returned to spending online.

The latest BRC (British Retail Consortium) – KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor found that online sales of non-food products grew by 11.2% in July 2016, compared with the same period a year ago.

This is also a 9% increase on the previous month (June), although lower than the growth trend of 14.7% seen in July 2015.

In the three months to July, online sales of non-food products grew 11.1% year on year.

However, over the same period in-store sales fell by one per cent on a total basis and were down 1.3% on a like-for-like basis.

In July 2016, online sales accounted for 20.4% of total non-food sales in the UK, compared with 19.4% in July last year. Although this is still below the record of 22.4% seen in November 2015.

Dickinson said: “Online (non-food) sales echoed the performance of total sales this month, with growth rising back to the 12-month average. The brief drop-off in online sales activity in the few days following the referendum turned out to be a blip, as consumers who had turned their attentions to browsing for details about the EU, quickly returned to spending online.

“As with in-store sales, there was widespread promotional activity in July. That is usual for this time of year, although a number of retailers undertook longer and broader promotions as a result of the substantial accumulated stock resulting from a sluggish first half of 2016. We’ll have to watch and wait to see if the success of promotions spills over on to full price sales.

“While there doesn’t appear to be much sign of the reported fall in consumer confidence feeding into sales, with the rapid and multi-faceted evolution of internet centred technology, customers are becoming increasingly savvy and expectant of low prices. Given the fierce competition in the market, retailers have little choice but to rise to the challenge.”

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