Martin Flanagan: Online retailers click back to growth

Referendums come and referendums go, but online shopping is a Remain vote for ever.

The BRC said there was little evidence that Brexit has dented sales. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire
The BRC said there was little evidence that Brexit has dented sales. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

Latest figures from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG show that, after a brief drop-off in growth of online sales of non-food products in the few days following the UK’s European Union Brexit vote in June, normal service was restored in July. After a few days of turbulence and reflection, everything clicked again.

Non-food online sales last month rose 11.2 per cent, up from 9 per cent in June. The latest online figure was above the 11.1 per cent 12-month average.

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Jewellery firms benefit from Brexit pound slump

Bricks-and-mortar store sales continue to fall, down 1 per cent on a total basis and 1.3 per cent on a same-floorspace measure in the three months to July continuing a secular trend in the retail sector.

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Napoleon patronisingly called the British a nation of shopkeepers. Maybe he should have said shoppers instead. The British Retail Consortium says there is little evidence that post-Brexit blues are feeding through into reduced sales. Maybe it is just that, with deflation stalking many of the aisles, there are too many promotion-led bargains out there for the average punter to ignore.

Particularly strong in recovery last month was women’s fashions and accessories, with the July heatwave as opposed to a rainy June providing another boost. Ditto a tailwind from the sun for outdoor toy sales and barbecues.

Britain may have made a momentous decision on its withdrawal from the EU, but it shows you that after periods of turbulence some other verities assert themselves. Such as the ubiquity of internet retail offers.

Steaming gravy

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More evidence that the gravy train in Britain’s major boardrooms has plenty of steam left. The new report by the High Pay Centre shows that FTSE 100 chief executives’ pay rose by a tenth last year to an average £5.5 million. I suppose it’s a case of some must labour, some must think. But you can see why scepticisim segues into cynicism as the glare of exposure falls on the greed. And let’s retire “transparency” as the get-out-of-jail free card for excessive executive pay.

The punters are no longer upset about the lack of transparency in remuneration schemes. They are fed up with the numbers.