UK Retail Sales End Summer On A Down Note

Summer’s shopping season ended with more of a whimper than a bang in the U.K., according to recently released figures.

A survey out of a retail trade group indicates that sales were yet another piece of data indicating consumer uncertainty in the U.K. as the ramifications of Brexit are still being sorted.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) noted that same-store sales sales were down by 0.9 percent year over year in the four-week period from July 31 to Aug. 27. This follows a 1.1 percent growth reported in July.

Sales for all stores declined 0.3 percent, against a 0.1 percent increase in Aug. 2015. That is the worst performance the sector has notched since Sept. 2014.

And while this news is less than encouraging, it notably contrasts with recent figures released by the Confederation of British Industry, which signaled a sales increase during a roughly contiguous time period — though that survey indicated a sharp drop in July figures.

The official figures on August sales won’t be out until later in September. July figures showed basically solid growth as warm weather boosted clothing sales, and a weak pound boosted international trade.

“Data portending the health of the economy paint a volatile picture,” said Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive. “The fact is that, so far, little has directly changed for the U.K.’s consumers as a result of the referendum, so it’s the preexisting market dynamics that are still driving sales.”

Among U.K. economists, there are still lasting concerns about the economy continuing to act as a headwind against growth. Of particular concern is an uptick in inflation and limited earnings growth.