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August 18, 2011

Stephen Robertson
Director General, BRC
Official retail figures confirm the British Retail Consortium's (BRC's) findings from last week; the total value of sales in July was modestly up on a year ago and the rate of growth was slightly higher than in June.

But the numbers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published today (Thursday) also confirm that that top-line growth came from inflation and January's VAT rise and people actually bought fewer goods in July than in the same month a year earlier.

British Retail Consortium Director General, Stephen Robertson, said: "This confirms the painful picture painted by our own figures last week. Conditions are increasingly difficult for customers and retailers. All the growth in sales values came from inflation and January's increase in VAT; people are actually buying fewer goods than a year ago.

"Customers' ability to spend is being squeezed by rising costs, particularly utilities and low wage rises.

"Food sales continue to outperform non-food with inflation helping to drive top-line growth. But it's taking a record number of promotions to tempt customers into stores.

"Global economic fears are mounting. Policymakers in Europe and the US must act quickly to implement a coordinated and credible strategy to reduce public sector deficits while supporting growth. Business and consumer confidence needs to be restored quickly."

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