“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."
“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. A heavy month of promotions proved very successful in appealing to bargain-hungry shoppers, boosting sales growth to 1.9 per cent, ahead of the 12- month average of 1.2 per cent.
“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 Government needs to play its part to ensure that change is not suffocated by increasing costs.”
“The sun shone down on retail fortunes in July with total sales increasing 1.9 per cent versus 2015. 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.
“The July heatwave put picnics and barbeques high on the agenda lifting sales of food and drink back into the black. Meanwhile, fashion sales improved markedly versus June as well-timed promotions, holiday preparations and some sunshine prompted consumers to supplement their summer wardrobes. Sales of jewellery and watches also improved as international consumers took advantage of the weaker sterling to splash out on more expensive purchases.
“This first full month of retail sales figures post-vote suggests that UK shopping patterns haven’t changed versus previous years. For retailers, plans to improve productivity remain top of mind to guard against recent increases to their cost base as well as making sure they can weather what are likely to be more uncertain times ahead.”
“Given the sharp drop in food and drink spending in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, a return to sales growth during July was very encouraging. As some of the economic and political uncertainties were resolved, shopper confidence began to recover. In July, 30 per cent of shoppers felt they would be worse off over the next 12 months; broadly comparable with the 27 per cent who said this in July 2015, but not the 49 per cent we saw immediately after Brexit. The next few months’ sales figures will hinge largely on whether we see the return of food inflation, following the drop in sterling. If so, this is likely to be a gradual effect.”
The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor measures changes in the actual value (including VAT) of retail sales, excluding automotive fuel. The Monitor measures the value of spending and hence does not adjust for price or VAT changes. If prices are rising, sales volumes will increase by less than sales values. In times of price deflation, sales volumes will increase by more than sales values.
Retailers report the value of their sales for the current period and the equivalent period a year ago. These figures are reported both in total and on a ‘like-for-like’ basis.
Total sales growth is the percentage change in the value of all sales compared to the same period a year earlier. The total sales measure is used to assess market level trends in retail sales. It is a guide to the growth of the whole retail industry, or how much consumers in total are spending in retail – retail spending represents approximately one-third of consumer spending. It is this measure that is often used by economists. Many retailers include distance sales as a component of total sales.
‘Like-for-like’ sales growth (LFL) is the percentage change in the value of comparable sales compared to the same period a year earlier. It excludes any spending in stores that opened or closed in the intervening year, thus stripping out the effect on sales of changes in floorspace. Many retailers include distance sales as a component of like-for-like comparable sales.
The like-for-like measure is often used by retailers, the city and analysts to assess the performance of individual companies, retail sectors and the industry overall, without the distorting effect of changes in floorspace.
Online (including mail order and phone) sales of non-food are transactions which take place over the internet, or via mail order or phone. Online sales growth is the percentage change in the value of online sales compared to those in the same period a year earlier. It is a guide to the growth of sales made by these non-store channels. It should be noted that online sales are still a small proportion of total UK retail sales. Estimates based on ONS figures show about 10 per cent of total UK retail sales (food and non-food) are achieved via the internet.
The responses provided by retailers within each sales category are weighted (based on weightings derived from the ONS Family Spending survey) to reflect the contribution of each category to total retail sales, thus making it representative of UK retail sales as a whole. Because the figures compare sales this month with the comparable period last year, a seasonal adjustment is not made. However, changes in the timing of Bank Holidays and Easter can create distortions, which should be considered in the interpretation of the data.
As well as receiving sales value direct from the retailers in the scheme the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor also receives food and drink sales value data from the IGD’s Market Track Scheme.
In its role as sponsor of the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, KPMG is responsible for the aggregation of the retail sales data provided by the retailers on a weekly basis. This data consists of the relevant current week’s sales data and comparative sales figures for the same period in the prior year. The aggregation has been performed by KPMG on data for periods following 2 April 2000 and equivalent prior periods. The accuracy of the data is entirely the responsibility of the retailers providing it. The sponsorship role has been performed by KPMG since 10 April 2000 and the same for the aggregation of comparative sales figures for the period from 2 April 2000 it is not responsible for the aggregation of any data included in this Monitor relating to any period prior to 2 April 2000.
The commentary from KPMG is intended to be of general interest to readers but is not advice or a recommendation and should not be relied upon without first taking professional advice. Anyone choosing to rely on it does so at his or her own risk. To the fullest extent permitted by law, KPMG will accept no responsibility or liability in connection with its sponsorship of the Monitor and its aggregation work to any party other than the BRC.
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The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is the UK’s leading retail trade association. It represents the full range of retailers, large and small, multiples and independents, food and non-food, online and store based.
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