Online spending in textile, clothing and footwear stores surged 12.9% on last year but slipped 1.7% from June

Online spending in textile, clothing and footwear stores surged 12.9% on last year but slipped 1.7% from June

The hottest July on record and final end-of-season discounting were accompanied by soaring British retail sales, with the biggest boost seen online and department store purchases up for the first time this year. 

The volume of sales for the month of July increased by 0.2% compared with the previous month, with strong growth of 6.9% in non-store retailing, a report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed. 

Department stores' growth increased for the first time this year, with month-on-month growth of 1.6%, following six consecutive months of decline.

In textile, clothing and footwear stores, the quantity brought was up by 1.2% year-on-year but down 0.2% from June.

"Summer has brought fresh energy to the retail industry, and July's growth is a cause for some celebration," says Lee Lucas, principal and CEO of the Fashion Retail Academy. 

"It is never easy to second-guess what shoppers might be looking for, but this season's stock has clearly been ticking the boxes for consumers, who have proved their dedication to using the high street and have shown that they still want to experience the joy of searching through the rails for the season's 'must haves'."

In July 2019, online retailing accounted for 19.9% of total retailing compared with 18.9% in June. It saw growth of 12.7% over July last year, with a month-on-month rise of 5.4%.

Online spending in textile, clothing and footwear stores surged 12.9% on last year but slipped 1.7% from June, while online sales as a proportion of retailing in the footwear and apparel sector totalled 19.3%. 

"Last summer's strong retail performance, a season defined by prolonged warm weather, a Royal Wedding and a football World Cup to boot, should have been a tough act to follow," notes Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte.

"Whilst year-on-year food sales have struggled to repeat themselves this July (down 0.5%), the arrival of 'T-shirt and shorts' weather in the UK combined with promotional activity boosted clothing sales. 

"July's positive sales will come as a surprise to many as negative headlines continue to dominate coverage of the retail sector. However, real-wages remain high, growing faster than at any time since the financial crisis. 

"Interest and inflation rates are at historically low levels, and unemployment, despite a recent increase, also remains low, all pointing to possible gains in spending power. 

"However, the retail industry as a whole remains under pressure and, as discounting has come to a seasonal close, we could see a slowdown of sales for the remainder of summer."

He continues: "Brexit uncertainty could also continue to impact overall consumer confidence and household expenditure for the time being. The opportunity for retailers in the long-term is through investment in growing their digital sales and transforming their in-store experiences, be it hosting fitness classes or opening nail bars."