High street sales bounce back in June yet British retailers remain cautious

TOTAL retail sales improved by 1.5 per cent in the year to June, according to figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) today.

While food sales slowed slightly, this was offset by increased non-food sales, attributed to the summer clearance sales beginning earlier this year.

Like-for-like sales – which exclude changes in shop floor space – were down 0.6 per cent in the year.

Stephen Robertson, Director General of the BRC, said: “Sales continue to be under huge pressure from the squeeze on disposable incomes produced by rising inflation and low wage growth.” The BRC also pointed out that increased sales did not extend to “big-ticket” items such as electronic appliances.

Although there has been improvement, the BRC figures show that growth has slowed when compared to last year, when June saw a 3.4 per cent rise in total sales.

Robertson said: “Given June’s spate of shop closure announcements and weak company results, these figures are not as bad as they could have been but it shows just how tough times are when total sales growth of 1.5 per cent is regarded as not that bad.”

On the three-month average – which removes some monthly volatility – total sales are up 2.7 per cent annualised, and 0.8 per cent annualised on a like-for-like basis.

Internet, mail-order and phone sales increased by 11.5 per cent in June.