Here’s more from my colleague Louis Ashworth on the drop in retail sales:
A post-lockdown shopping boom began to lose steam in July as abysmal weather later in the month was blamed for dampening retail spending.
Total sales rose by 6.4pc over the month compared with July 2020 according to the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, marking a slowdown from June’s 10.4pc year-on-year reading despite the continued re-opening.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “July continued to see strong sales, although growth has started to slow. The lifting of restrictions did not bring the anticipated in-store boost, with the wet weather leaving consumers reluctant to visit shopping destinations.”
Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG, warned waning momentum could turn into a drop in shopping spending over the coming months.
“Staffing pressures, increases in commodity and component costs, rising inflation eating into households’ spending power and stalling consumer confidence could lead to a slowdown in retail sector growth as we head into autumn,” he said.
It came as Barclaycard data showed entertainment spending rose for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, with easing restrictions and the attraction of a ‘summer of sport’ leading Britons to head out to theatres, cinemas and beer gardens.
Fuel spending hit the highest level since the onset of Covid-19 in the UK, pushed by an increase in staycations and leisure travel, the reopening of offices and higher prices at the pumps.
Pubs, bars and clubs had a strong month, with spending at such locations up by almost a third.
Raheel Ahmed, Barclaycard’s head of consumer products, said: “While some sectors took a small step back as the post-lockdown ‘honeymoon’ period cooled, July was a positive month overall. However, with inflation expected to rise, it will be interesting to see how this impacts consumer spending behaviour over the coming months.”
The latest cash tracker data from the Post Office showed further signs that different kinds of activity picked up as the summer got into swing.
Britons made a record £665m in cash withdrawals during July, the highest ever recorded for a month outside of the traditional December peak.