The British Retail Consortium is at odds with the Office for National Statistics retail figures, following its recent report that retail sales rose unexpectedly in July.
The ONS says total sales value rose year-on-year by 3.8% in July, while the BRC figures were a “miserly” 1.7%. The ONS report says that retailers across the board reported a good month in July, with sales of household goods, clothing and footwear all up. The report goes on to say that the rise came even as prices rose to the highest level since 1998, up 1.6% compared to a year ago, largely driven by food prices.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson (pictured) says: “Few retailers will recognise this positive picture. ONS says year-on-year growth was higher in July than in June. Our retail sales monitor shows its fell. ONS don’t measure like-for-like sales but our figures show July sales down on a year ago.
“There is no evidence that fundamental conditions are improving for customer or retail businesses. Consumer confidence remains low, unemployment is rising and the housing market weakening. It’s hard to see what could produce the sales growth boost ONS is reporting or its finding that smaller retailers are outperforming larger ones.”