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The survey of 132 firms, of which 66 were retailers, showed that sales volumes declined more rapidly than at any time since January 2012, with weaker consumer confidence a likely factor in the immediate period following the EU referendum. Companies expect sales volumes to decline at a broadly similar pace as this month in the year to August.
Within retail, sales by grocers, and furniture and carpets stores were the main drivers of the drop in overall volumes. But some sectors bucked the trend, with non-specialised department stores and retailers of footwear and leather goods reporting higher volumes.
Orders placed on suppliers dropped at the quickest pace since March 2009 and are expected to fall further in August.
In tandem with a weaker retail sector, volumes in wholesaling deteriorated at the fastest pace since April 2013 and are expected to fall further next month.
Meanwhile, sales within the motor trade continued to expand, albeit at slower pace than early this year.
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