LONDON Aug 12 British retail sales growth rose in July, driven by an upturn inf urniture spending and other non-food purchases, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on Tuesday.
Total retail spending was 1.3 percent higher in July compared with the same month a year ago, the BRC said, as growth picked up from June's comparatively weak rate of 0.6 percent.
Sales on alike-for-like basis - a measure which strips out changes in floor space and is favoured by equity analysts - fell 0.3 percent on the year, bucking expectations for a 0.6 percent rise.
Furniture sales rose at the fastest pace since January, excluding distortions from the Easter holidays, but spending on food declined again, marking its deepest three-month average fall since records started in December 2008.
"While non-food retailers had a stellar month, surpassing even last year's record sales performance, the grocers saw sales tumble in value as their competitive pricing continued," said David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, which sponsors the survey.
Consumer spending has been a major driver of Britain's unexpectedly strong economic recovery over the past year, but in May, the Bank of England said it expected the rate of growth to fall slightly in the second half of 2014.
The Bank releases updated forecasts for Britain's economy on Wednesday.
Reduced spending on food reflected prolonged discounting from grocers, McCorquodale said, adding that price wars were likely to stay for the foreseeable future.
Britain's four big supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury's, Wal-Mart's Asda and Morrisons - have been trying to regain market share lost to discounters like Aldi and Lidl.
Sales on a like-for-like basis - a measure which strips out changes in floor space and is favoured by equity analysts - fell 0.3 percent on the year, bucking expectations for a 0.6 percent rise.
The Office for National Statistics publishes July retail sales data on Aug. 21 that covers a broader range of stores than the BRC data, which focuses on larger chains.
The ONS reported that retail sales stagnated in June, though a strong performance in April and May allowed the second quarter as a whole to deliver the biggest increase in the volume of goods sold for 10 years. (Reporting by Andy Bruce Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)