July retail figures unveiled by ONS, with food sales propping up volume growth

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed its official figures for retail sales for the month of July.

The quantity bought (volume) in retail sales increased by 0.3% compared with the previous month, driven by strong sales in food stores at 1.5% – recovering from a fall of 1.1% in June 2017.

All other sectors except food and household goods stores declined on the month for the quantity bought in retail sales.

The underlying pattern in the quantity bought, measured by the 3 month on 3 month estimate, shows an increase of 0.6%.

The quantity bought increased by 1.3% compared with July 2016; the 51st consecutive year-on-year increase in retail sales since April 2013.

Online sales increased year-on-year by 15.1% and by 0.3% on the month, accounting for approximately 16.0% of all retail spending.

Commenting on the figures, Office for National Statistics senior statistician Ole Black said: “The underlying trend at the beginning of 2017 showed a relatively subdued picture in retail sales. Strong food sales have been responsible for the growth of 0.3% in July compared with June, as all other main sectors have shown a decrease. Whilst the overall growth is the same as in June, trends in growth in different sectors are proving quite volatile.”

Salmon global head of consultancy and innovation Hugh Fletcher commented: “July’s ONS figures offer mixed reading for retailers as consumer’s spending in the high street remained relatively stagnant. Food expenditure helped to bolster the overall figures but the real winner in all of this was online which accounted for approximately 16% of all retail spending. It’s unsurprising to see online experiencing continued growth as shoppers crave greater convenience in their daily shopping interactions. Ease of use will always be king for the customer as they look for the quickest possible route from product to point of sale, with our research finding that 23% are digitally obsessed and make almost all their purchases online – prioritising convenience and innovation over brands.”

He added: “As consumers become more comfortable with new innovative ways of shopping retailers will have to transform as well. The concept of Programmatic Commerce, for example, will begin to make its way to the forefront as the majority of shoppers (57%) begin to see the personal benefits of technology automatically purchasing goods for them based on pre-agreed preferences. There is no hiding the fact that Amazon currently dominates retail because it understands exactly what the customer wants and provides it consistently through its Echo & Dash products. We all have a love / hate relationship with Amazon because of this, but retailers should take note and evolve their own offering to meet customers’ high expectations. A failure to take on board innovation will only lead to a loss in customer satisfaction, and ultimately spend.”

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