UK retail experiences “worst June on record”

Consumer spending hits its lowest nadir since the BRC and KPMG began their monthly survey in 1996

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 09.07.2019 | Retail

UK retail experiences “worst June on record” thumbnail

UK consumer spending has hit its lowest nadir since the mid-90s resulting in the “worst June on record”, according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium.

Total sales dropped 1.3 per cent last month while the rate of growth slowed to just 0.6 per cent, the BRC’s report in partnership with KPMG found. It's the weakest set of results in both regards since the monthly survey began in 1996. 

Like-for-like sales fell 1.6 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Some analysts point to skewed results. Last year’s unusually balmy summer and a hot streak for the England World Cup football team resulted in greater consumer spending on seasonal items and food and drink. Brits were happy last year to open their wallets for things like TVs, garden furniture, barbecues, and food and drink, but all these categories were down this time around.  

Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s CEO, says this year “could not compete” with that perfect combination of hot weather and sports, leading to “the worst June on record”.

The BRC also found that online shopping had cut yet further into the market share of bricks and mortar retailers. The amount of non-food goods purchased online rose two per cent since June 2018 to 30.7 per cent.

“Overall, the picture is bleak: rising real wages have failed to translate into higher spending as ongoing Brexit uncertainty led consumers to put off non-essential purchases,” Helen adds.

“Businesses and the public desperately need clarity on Britain’s future relationship with the EU. The continued risk of a no-deal Brexit is harming consumer confidence and forcing retailers to spend hundreds of millions of pounds putting in place mitigations – this represents time and resources that would be better spent improving customer experience and prices.”

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