UK retail sales increased by volume and amount spent in July as strong food sales offset monthly declines in other sectors.
Retail sales by volume rose 1.3% year-on-year in July, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), marking the 51st consecutive month of year-on-year increase in retail sales.
Online sales during the period jumped 15.1%, and accounted for 16% of overall retail spend.
July’s sales increase was bolstered by a 1.5% increase in food sale volumes compared to the previous month.
However, overall retail sales edged up just 0.3% compared with June as all other retail sectors except for food and household goods posted a decline in sales volumes.
“While headline inflation may have eased back slightly recently, shoppers are still feeling the squeeze from several months of rising prices and sluggish wage growth”
Keith Richardson, Lloyds Bank
The amount spent on retail sales in July jumped 4.1% year-on-year and edged up 0.7% month-on-month, despite food price inflation having slowed in July.
ONS senior statistician Ole Black said: “The underlying trend at the beginning of 2017 showed a relatively subdued picture in retail sales.
“Strong food sales have been responsible for the growth of 0.3% in July compared with June, as all other main sectors have shown a decrease. Whilst the overall growth is the same as in June, trends in growth in different sectors are proving quite volatile.”
Lloyds Bank head of retail Keith Richardson added: “While headline inflation may have eased back slightly recently, shoppers are still feeling the squeeze from several months of rising prices and sluggish wage growth.
“But despite consumers finding their purses a little lighter each month, the supermarkets continue to find ways to help shoppers adapt their spending rather than rein it in – encouraging them to trade nights out for nights in and switch brands for own label, for example.
“That will be little consolation to the beleaguered fashion sector, however. The fleeting sales boom fashion retailers saw in June will already feel like a long time ago and unless the British summer delivers another heatwave, it’s hard to escape the feeling that there may be dark clouds on the way.”