July sales figures show pressure on retailers

July sales figures show pressure on retailers

Latest retail sales figures reflect the pressure on UK high streets as households struggle to meet rising food and fuel bills.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for July show zero growth in the volume of total sales year on year last month and an increase in value of 4.3% - less than the official inflation rate.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rate was 4.4% in July and Retail Prices Index (RPI) 5%.

The figures look worse stripped of petrol sales, with the value of sales then put at 2.8% year on year. Strip out food sales and they look worse still with the increase in value on July 2010 reduced to 0.2%.

Retailers of household goods are suffering the most with sales volumes down 4.1% year on year and a 3.4% decline in value.

Sales by retailers excluding food, clothing and household goods were down 2% in volume year on year last month and down 1.5% in value – a sharp fall against a 4.4% rise in prices

The ONS figures, released today, show web sales growing but prices online also falling. The volume of non-store retailing was up 16.9% year on year and the value 16.1% - taking the sector to 4.5% of total sales. The ONS estimates average web prices fell 0.8% year on year last month, meaning a relative decline year on year – allowing for inflation – of more than 5%.

Major retailers appear to have fared much better than small and medium-sized companies, with those employing 100 or more staff showing growth in sales value of 5.8%. Only the smallest retailers with fewer than 10 employees also showed growth (of 3.7%), with retailers in the middle squeezed.

The value of sales among retailers with between 10 and 39 employees fell by 15.4% year on year, possibly reflecting a decline in this sector as businesses close.

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