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High street retail sales rise

UK retail sales grew much faster than expected in July.

CITY & CORPORATE

High street retail sales rise

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), retail sales during the month grew 1.1% on the month – ahead of analysts forecasts of 0.4%.

This represented the highest month-on-month growth since February.On an annual basis, sales were 1.3% higher – again, better than the 0.6% expected by analysts.Meanwhile, the ONS said a broad mix of retailers experienced strong growth, including sports equipment and jewellery shops.However, department stores and household goods sales were flat.

Commenting on the figures Richard Hyman, Strategic Retail Adviser to Deloitte, said:  “Today’s figures show an increase in retail sales for July, but with weak comparatives from July last year, the underlying weakness of demand in the retail economy may be being masked.  The reality remains that this is a weak market and has every chance of getting worse before it gets better.

“The impact of tax and national insurance increases are still feeding through to people’s pockets, the housing recovery looks far from secure and concerns remain about job security, particularly in the public sector.  At the same time, individuals are showing a greater desire to pay down personal debt, or save a higher proportion of their income.
“It is inconceivable that the range of measures being taken to tackle the national debt will not impact the consumer economy.  The most obvious example of this is through the increase in VAT although the saving grace is that the increase comes into force from January.  Christmas 2010 would have been significantly worse for retailers had the increase come into force immediately.”

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