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Online sales slow in July as high street gathers pace

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Online sales growth slowed in July as the summer's heatwave persuaded shoppers away from their screens and to the high street instead, new figures suggest.

For while UK retail sales, which predominantly take place in shops, saw their fastest growth since 2006, online sales grew by just 7.9% compared to last July, according to today’s BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor (RSM). Total sales grew by 3.9% while like-for-like sales were up by 2.2%.

The figure is also quite a dip compared both to last July, when sales grew by 15.6%, and the previous month, June, when they rose by 14%. Indeed, this was the second slowest growth recorded by the RSM so far this year.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said of this month’s internet sales: “This is still a good level of growth for online sales but it is a little below trend and not quite as stellar as we saw last month. We may well have seen people taking advantage of the good weather to spend time outside, rather than staying in to shop online.

“Many of the same categories performed well online as they did offline. Clothing and footwear posted good results and health and beauty products grew strongly, albeit from a low base.”

By contrast, home and indoor items sold less strongly. Online food sales are estimated to have grown by 0.6%. Overall, the food and drink sector saw its best performance in July for five years. The summer heatwave and sporting successes were both key to this, according to Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of the IGD.

“The middle two weeks of the month were particularly strong,” she said, “with supermarkets reporting a big increase in the sale of burgers, sausages and other barbecue-related food.

“July’s strong food and drink data, together with the positive GDP figures, are among various signs pointing to growing optimism. Our ShopperVista research shows 60% of shoppers expect their personal economic circumstance to improve or stay the same, compared to 52% a year ago.”

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, hailed July as a ‘golden month’ for retail sales. “Hopefully this uptick in summer sales is another indication that the UK economy has turned the corner towards growth.”

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