Retail Sales 'Up' In Year To July

Businesses should make sure they have someone in place to focus on retail IT systems maintenance this year, as new figures show that sales in the industry have increased in the year to July, with sales in the wholesaling sector exceeding expectations and motor trades sales continuing to increase.

The CBI's Distributive Trades Survey has revealed that 36 per cent of retailers saw sales volumes increase in July in comparison to the previous year, with 30 per cent further expecting volumes to grow in the year to August - although at a slower rate.

CBI distributive trades chairman and Asda's chief customer officer Barry Williams said however that while the UK economy is looking better, businesses are still likely to find conditions challenging and as such they should be monitoring the situation carefully.

"Summer trading is traditionally slower across the retail sector but warm weather can often provide a welcome boost, as we saw towards the end of June and the beginning of this month," he remarked.

This comes as the CBI revealed that the rate of economic growth in the UK strengthened in the three months leading up to July. Its latest growth indicator showed a reading of +20% across the retail, manufacturing and service sectors, compared to +14% in June.

The group put this down to a faster rate of growth in professional services and business, with expectations remaining robust and companies predicting that growth will continue to strengthen in the coming three months.

CBI head of economic analysis Anna Leach did say, however, that the strength of the pound is still causing problems for exporters keen to sell within the EU.

Online Retail Sales ‘Up 9.9% In May’

Digital sales in the retail sector grew by 9.9 per cent in May, the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have revealed – great news for anyone making use of retail IT systems at this time.

However, compared with the previous year the growth is not as accelerated. In 2013, web-based sales of non-food products were up by 17 per cent – which is why May 2015 is lagging behind the yearly average growth of 11.9 per cent.

Director-general of the BRC Helen Dickinson observed that in the last year, the internet has contributed to more growth for non-food sales than in actual physical stores, rewarding the investments that businesses have put into new avenues in the last couple of years.

“Positive consumer confidence was illustrated in May by good growth in big ticket items such as furniture and domestic appliances, particularly online,” she said.

Digital growth in household appliances and furniture was up over its performance in April, it was also found, although because May 2014 saw such strong sales in fashion categories it appeared to suffer this year.

This comes after the BRC found that consumers in the UK are increasingly using their smartphones to make purchases online, especially when it comes to shopping for clothes. In April, it was found that the number of those using their phones to hunt for clothes was up by 54 per cent compared with the same time a year ago. In addition, tablet searches were seen to be up by 11 per cent over the same period.