A retail expert has voiced concerns over the plateauing retail sales in the wake of England’s ‘freedom day’.

Data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed that on a total basis, sales increased by 6.4% in July, against a growth of 3.2% in July 2020.

This is below the three-month average growth of 14.7% and the 12-month average growth of 10.4%. On a two-year basis, total retail sales grew by 9.1%.

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Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, commented: “July continued to see strong sales, although growth has started to slow.

“The lifting of restrictions did not bring the anticipated in-store boost, with the wet weather leaving consumers reluctant to visit shopping destinations.

“Online sales remained strong, and with weddings and other social events back on for the summer calendar, formalwear and beauty all began to see notable improvement, so fashion outlets in particular saw a bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.

“As many people prepare to return to the workplace, purchase of home office equipment began to fall after months of high sales, meanwhile other homeware, such as furniture and household appliances continued to do well.

“However, the vacancy rate is continuing to rise. Many shops and local communities have been battered by the pandemic, with many high streets in need of further investment.

“Unfortunately, the current broken business rates system continues to hold back retailers, hindering vital investment into retail innovation and the blended physical-digital retail offering.

“The Government must ensure the upcoming business rates review permanently reduces the cost burden to sustainable levels.

“Retailers want to play their part in building back a better future for local communities, and Government must give them the tools to do so.”