UK retail sales growth slows

UK retail sales growth slows
UK retail sales rose by an annual 0.9 per cent in July.

By Reuters

Published: Tue 8 Aug 2017, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 8 Aug 2017, 11:02 PM

British retail sales grew more slowly in July, data published on Tuesday showed, as shoppers cut back on non-essential spending and budgeted for the higher price of food following the Brexit vote.
UK retail sales increased by an annual 0.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis, which strips out changes in store size, the British Retail Consortium said.
That was down from growth of 1.2 per cent in June - the highest non-Easter reading of the year thanks to good weather.
Total sales in July slowed to show a 1.4 per cent rise, in line with the 12-month average.
While better than the falling sales seen in much of this year, July's reading was a latest sign that the engine of the British economy - consumer spending - is losing steam.
The BRC said the 2.3 per cent growth in food sales on a like-for-like basis between May and July was mainly driven by rising prices, while non-food sales shrank by 0.7 per cent.
This was the weakest performance for both since the January-March period.
A sharp depreciation in sterling since the Brexit vote in June 2016, combined with stagnant wages, has put pressure on households as essentials like food have become more costly.
The trend has pushed consumer borrowing up while confidence levels have fallen along with spending on items like cars and the number of people seeking mortgages to buy homes.
"We can expect food to continue making the running for sales growth for the time being, although driven more by price than volume, with non-food continuing to struggle," said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC.
Competition was heating up for the diminishing pool of discretionary consumer spending power, Dickinson said. As well as food, homeware and footwear were among the sectors to have won last month.
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at accountancy firm KPMG, which sponsors the index, said the figures seemed to defy weak readings of consumer confidence recently, retailers should not count on a sustained pickup.
"This divide suggests that UK shopping patterns remain mixed, although with demand continuing to be weak, retailers would be wise to remain cautious," he said. - Reuters
UK recruiters blame Brexit for staff shortage
A shortage of staff for British employers worsened in July, hurt by the departure of European Union workers after last year's Brexit vote, a group representing recruitment agencies said on Tuesday.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said the availability of staff overall suffered its biggest fall last month in a year and a half.
"The parts of the economy most reliant on European workers are under even more pressure as many EU workers return home," REC chief executive Kevin Green said.

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