Total cash spent at UK retailers is on the climb

Chris Papadopoullos
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UK retail sales are ticking upward with evidence that confidence is rising, as consumers spend more on big-ticket items.

Total spending at retailers grew by 1.8 per cent in the three months to May compared with the same period last year, according to figures published today by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and financial services giant KPMG.

Spending on furniture contributed the most to the increase, a sign of high consumer confidence.

Total spending on food rose by only 0.5 per cent while non-food expenditure shot up 2.8 per cent.

“Although the May food sales figures were only a slight improvement on last year there are some positive signs for food companies. After a prolonged period of food and drink deflation, any growth is a solid achievement, especially given the wet and cool weather in May,” said Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD, analysts of the food and consumer goods industry.

Like-for-like sales of all goods sold by retailers were flat on the year. Like-for-like sales figures exclude any spending in stores that opened or closed in the intervening year, thus stripping out the effect on sales of changes in floorspace.

BRC chief Helen Dickinson said the stalling of like-for-like sales “was mainly due to fashion sales, which experienced a decline compared with the same month last year, where we saw record demand.”

“Nevertheless, May also had some positive developments. Among all categories, furniture performed strongest, an indication of continuing consumer confidence. There was also good news on food: after six months of marginal growth year-onyear, we are now starting to see a stabilisation in food sales despite the highly competitive market environment.

“Interestingly, May sales also reflected the growing consumer interest in fitness and healthier lifestyles.”

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