Retail performance in July was better than expected

New retail figures for July indicate that consumers are taking a more “business as usual” attitude to spending following the EU referendum than many market analysts were predicting.

The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) – KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor, for example, shows online and high street sales rising in value at a faster rate in July than during the previous six months.

A new retail report from Barclaycard, meanwhile, shows continued spending by consumers last month, particularly in restaurants, pubs and cinemas.

“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,” said the BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson.

“However, little has materially changed for most UK households since June 23, so it is not surprising that sales are simply responding to their normal underlying drivers.”

The message from Barclaycard’s managing director, Paul Lockstone, was similarly reassuring for those whose ultimate income depends on retail sales.

“While growth did slow (during July), 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,” he said.

“These are the first full month’s figures since the EU referendum, however, 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.”

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