Retail Economics Response: ONS Retail Sales –July 2019

Retail sales (value, non-seasonally adjusted, excluding fuel) rose by 3.7% year-on-year in July 2019, according to the latest figures from the ONS. This is slightly down on the 3.7% rise in the previous month and below the 5.4% rise in July 2018.

In volume terms, retail sales rose by 2.9% on last year (seasonally adjusted, excluding fuel). On a month-on-month basis, volumes edged up 0.2%.

A more accurate reflection of underlying trends, shown by the three-month on three-month growth, reported a 0.5% increase in sales volumes in the three months to June.

Average store prices including fuel increased by 0.8% on the year (excluding fuel, up by 0.8%), marking an improvement on the 0.6% rise (0.5%) in the previous month. Average prices in food stores increased by 1.5% year-on-year in July, unchanged from the previous month. Non-Food store prices increased by 0.3% in the month, having previously faced declines since the start of the year.

Online sales (non-seasonally adjusted, excluding automotive fuel) increased by 12.8% year-on-year, softening on the 16.0% rise last year. However, these figures are subject to revisions. Online sales accounted for approximately 18.6% of all retail spending.

Retail sales (volume, seasonally adjusted) – 3-months on previous 3-months

Source: ONS

ONS data is notably more upbeat than the figures released by BRC-KPMG earlier in the month, which reported its weakest July since records began in 1995, with like-for-like sales broadly flat at 0.1% growth year-on-year.

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