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Consumer spend jumps despite Brexit fears

Both online and high street sales increased in July despite worries over slowing consumer confidence following the result of the EU referendum.

Like for like UK retail sales increased 1.1% for the four weeks to July 30, while total sales jumped 1.9% compared to the same period in 2015 - the strongest growth since January, according to the BRC- KPMG retail sales monitor.

Meanwhile online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 11.2% in July year on year. This is in line with the 12-month average of 11.1%.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium said: “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. However, little has materially changed for most UK households in the wake of June 23, so it is not surprising to us that sales are simply responding to their normal underlying drivers.”

She added: “The big question for retailers is whether that success can be carried forward into full price sales. Whilst retailers continue to monitor the situation in the wake of Brexit, responding to rapid and complex change in consumer behaviour in the midst of a highly competitive market remains the substantive challenge. The industry is in the process of productivity-enhancing transformation, but the government needs to play its part to ensure that change is not suffocated by increasing costs.”

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “The sun shone down on retail fortunes in July. Warmer weather helped 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.”

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