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July sees retail sales slump to record low

08 August 2019 - 10:07 by Graham Miller

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Last month was another tough period for retailers across the UK, with statistics published by the BRC indicating that it was the least successful trading window in the 25 years since the organisation began tracking performance.

Interestingly enough there was still a 0.3 per cent increase in overall sales across the retail sector year on year, although July saw 1.5 per cent fewer sales than June of 2019, indicating that the month to month health of the market is declining.

There was, however, healthy growth in safe shopping online of four per cent over the course of July. This is a far cry from the double-digit growth that e-commerce has enjoyed in most months ever since it began to gain traction over two decades ago.

Report spokesperson Helen Dickinson said that there was relatively low demand for goods amongst consumers at the moment, even in the face of events which would normally stimulate spending to a significant degree. The likes of Wimbledon and other major sporting competitions during the summer usually tend to boost sales, yet with so much uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future at the moment, the summer events have clearly not been sufficient to offset the impact of a nervous market. 

Dickinson outlined a number of potential solutions to the challenges facing the retail sector at the moment, mostly calling on politicians to put measures in place to improve things going forward. This includes freezing business rates and giving high street retailers better support so that store closures are minimised.

Web-based outlets have less to worry about in many respects, particularly as they can start to look to overseas customers if domestic demand falls following a no-deal Brexit. Of course, this is not going to be sufficient to lift the spirits of shoppers themselves, with shortages and price rises forecasted.