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Strong July for food sales but a tough month for high street

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RETAILERS in Jersey have had a ‘difficult start’ to the summer with high-street shops reporting mixed sales performances.

Mark Cox

Food retailers reported a strong July which one retail chief put down to the good weather, while some fashion retailers were reported to be struggling.

The UK retail sector reported the worst July on record for year-on-year growth, with sales figures showing a growth of just 0.3% this July.

During the same period the previous year an increase of 1.6% was reported.

High-street sales in June fell by the biggest margin on record for the summer month, with shoppers reportedly concerned about Brexit uncertainty, according to new data.

The British Retail Consortium described the state of the UK high street as ‘bleak’.

Town centre manager Daphne East, who also heads up the Chamber of Commerce Retail Committee, said that the Island’s retailers had reported ‘mixed’ sales performances.

She said: ‘Retail has had a difficult start [this summer] with mixed sales. It has been particularly difficult for fashion. But overall, July has seen an improvement in sales and profitability.’

Mark Cox, chief operating officer for the Co-op, said that food stores saw strong sales in July.

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‘We had a strong July, which was really helped by the weather, and we have seen strong growth in barbecue food and salads. But I would imagine that it’s going to be the non-food retailers and high-street retailers who are suffering.’

Mr Cox added that while last month’s sales were strong, sales in July 2018 were much higher owing to the ‘exceptional weather’ as well as the men’s football World Cup. UK food sales fared slightly better, up 2.4% over the three months to June but this was wiped out by in-store non-food sales being down 4.3%.

Retailer Gerald Voisin who owns Voisins – Jersey’s second-largest department store – said that sales in July were strong when compared with May which he said was ‘terrible’.

‘July’s sales have been good but May was absolutely terrible,’ he added. ‘We put that down to the teacher strikes, which we think kept people out of town and gave them other things to think about.’

The BRC also said Brexit was keeping shoppers away while last summer’s figures were boosted by a heatwave and the World Cup, which made the year-on-year comparisons more stark.

Krystle Higgins

By Krystle Higgins
Reporter

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