Heatwave boosts retail sales

June UK retail sales values rose 1.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis and 3.2 per cent on a total basis, from June 2008.
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The hot sunny weather, together with clearance sales increased sales of clothing, footwear and outdoor leisure but big-ticket sales remained difficult.

As may have been expected, the hot weather drove good sales of outdoor toys. Computer games and consoles showed slower growth, up against Wii Fit last year. Indoor toys showed gains for some, notably traditional board games.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: "June's sunshine gave overall sales a much-needed boost. The heatwave helped food retailers and got customers buying outdoor goods, such as garden furniture, pools and picnicware.

“But the sun knocked sales of big-ticket items, such as furniture and homewares, as people’s attention focused on the outdoors. Given the uncertainty about jobs, customers are still nervous about spending on more expensive non-essentials.”

Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, added: “Although overall sales performance continues to be driven by food, many non-food retailers had a better month in June.

“However, for non-food as whole, like-for-like sales remain in negative territory. The gap between total sales performance and like-for-like continues to narrow, highlighting the reductions in new store openings in the current environment.

“Two years of negative like-for-likes at store level for many retailers is putting severe pressure on cash and profits.”

Non-food non-store sales (internet, mail-order and phone sales) for the month were 16.8 per cent higher than a year ago, also benefiting from the heatwave and clearance sales.

Sharon Hardiman, head of non-store retailing, BRC, commented: “Online and mail order sales of non-food goods bounced back in June to the second highest growth rate this year.

“It's clear the heatwave didn't put people off staying at home to shop. Non-store sales of outdoor leisure goods and summer fashion were helped by the sun in the same way as shop sales."

Growth in non-food non-store sales strengthened in June to show a year-on-year gain of 16.8 per cent, up from 7.6 per cent in May and 12.5 per cent in April. Growth was thus the strongest since January, when sales had also been boosted by clearance sales.

Thus they continued to outpace store sales but the expansion is from a very low base, as non-food non-store sales account for only about four per cent of total retail sales.

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