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British shoppers shrug off Brexit

British shoppers have shrugged off fears that Brexit would hamper consumer spending after fresh figures showed retailers enjoyed the strongest sales growth since January.

The upbeat research comes despite fears by the highly-respected KPMG – Ipsos Retail Think Tank that the political uncertainty would lead to a dampening of consumer confidence which would hurt the retail sector’s fortunes.

However, fresh figures from the British Retail Consortium reveal that while there was an immediate drop-off in spending following June 23 as people tracked the political drama, sales recovered strongly in the days that followed.

UK retail sales rose in July by 1.1pc on a like-for-like basis compared to a year earlier, while on a total basis sales lifted by 1.9pc, said the BRC. Meanwhile, online non-food sales grew by 11.2pc during last month, lower than the same period a year ago when internet spending grew by 14.7pc, but higher than the 9pc recorded in June.

Separately, figures from Barclaycard show that spending remains largely unaffected by the Brexit vote with 63pc of 1,680 adults surveyed saying they have carried on spending as they did before the EU Referendum vote.

“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”, said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC.

“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.”

The majority of retailers ran heavy promotional end-of seasons sales in July, which also helped to lure shoppers “although a number of retailers undertook longer and broader promotions as a result of the substantial accumulated stock resulting from a sluggish first half of 2016”, Ms Dickinson said.

“We’ll have to watch and wait to see if the success of promotions spills over on to full price sales.”

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