Rise in retail sales despite Brexit fears

Rise in retail sales despite Brexit fears

Fears of an immediate post-Brexit vote slump in the UK retail sector proved unfounded, as new figures reveal that retail sales increased in July.

A survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and a leading accountancy firm found that total sales rose by 1.9% compared to the same month last year, while a separate report by Barclaycard found that spending in restaurants, pubs and cinemas also grew strongly in the month following the referendum.

The chief executive of the BRC, Helen Dickinson, described the rise as unsurprising, given that ‘little has materially changed’ for most UK households since the EU referendum.

The increase in sales in July has been partly attributed to warm weather, as has the rise in spending in restaurants and pubs. Barclaycard’s monthly report showed a 12.2% increase in spending by cardholders in pubs and a similar 12.8% rise in restaurant spending.

Paul Lockstone, managing director of corporate affairs at Barclaycard, said: ‘These are the first full month's figures since the EU referendum, so it's too early to say if this is the start of a long-term trend, but it seems likely consumers will be watching the external environment carefully ahead of any major spending decisions.’

Meanwhile, a consumer research survey carried out by Barclaycard found that people were more cautious about their future spending than they were previously, with nearly 50% ‘not confident’ in their ability to spend more on non-essential items.