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Retail sales are a ‘welcome uplift’ for fashion industry

UK department stores reported their first increase in sales this year last month as they rose 1.6% compared with June.

Retailers put this down to new clothing lines and extra promotions. Sales were still down by 0.8% year on year, however. The findings form part of the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) latest retails sales figures, which show that total retail sales grew 3.9% year on year in July. For the three months to July, sales were up 3.7% year on year.

Online retail sales registered a 12.7% increase compared with July 2018, and currently account for 19.9% of total retail spend.

Although clothing, footwear and textile stores benefited from a 12.9% year-on-year uplift in online sales, department stores suffered from a 1.3% drop. ONS said this was compared with a “strong” growth of 34.4% in July 2018.

Non-store retailing registered the largest year-on-year growth last month, with the amount spent and quantity bought at 2.1 and 2.2 percentage points respectively.

Head of retail sales at ONS, Rhian Murphy, said: “Retail sales saw only modest growth in the latest three months.

“Although still declining across the quarter, there was an increase in sales for department stores in July for the first time this year. Strong online sales growth was driven by promotions.”

Lee Lucas, principal and CEO of the Fashion Retail Academy, added: “Summer has brought fresh energy to the retail industry, and July’s growth is a cause for some celebration.

“What we have seen from the figures is that shoppers still want to visit physical shops… It’s particularly encouraging that department store sales increased for the first time this year, with a month-on-month growth of 1.6%.

“This is a welcome uplift for the industry.”

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