U.K. retail sales rise 1.1% despite Brexit

LONDON–U.K. retail sales increased in July, countering earlier surveys signaling consumer activity is slowing in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

The British Retail Consortium, a trade association, said on Monday that like-for-like sales–stripping out stores that have opened or closed–rose 1.1 % in the period July 3 to July 30 from the same period a year earlier. I n July 2015 , they increased 1.2%.

Total sales rose 1.9% compared with a 2.2% gain in July 2015, boosted by promotional activity and warm weather . The result is the strongest growth since the start of the year, the BRC said.

“A heavy month of promotions proved very successful ,” said Helen Dickinson, BRC’s chief executive.

“Warmer weather helped blow away some of the post-referendum blues,” added David McCorquodale, head of retail at business services firm KPMG. “This first full month of retail sales figures post-vote suggests that U.K. shopping patterns haven’t changed versus previous years. “

Previous surveys have pointed to a slowdown in activity as Britain reacted to Brexit.

In early July, a barometer of consumer confidence published by market researchers GfK U.K. Ltd. reported British consumer confidence suffered its steepest fall in more than two decades. The barometer recorded an 8-point fall in early July, the biggest monthly drop since 1994 , according to the data. The index fell to minus 9, from minus 1 in June.

The decline in confidence for the U.K. was later confirmed by the European Commission’s monthly survey of economic sentiment while survey data last week suggested output in the U.K. services sector shrank in July at the fastest pace since 2009.

U.K. clothing retailer Next PLC also said consumer demand declined in the few days after the r eferendum. To be sure, it and other retailers say it is too early to tell what impact Brexit will have on consumer demand.

Britons voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU in the June 23 referendum. The decision shocked financial markets and sent the pound tumbling.

Last week, the Bank of England cut its benchmark interest rate to a new low of 0.25% and started a bond-buying program among a raft of measures to shore up the U.K. economy.

Write to Simon Zekaria at simon.zekaria@wsj.com

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