Jubilee helped lift retail sales, survey shows

Ben Southwood
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HIGH STREET sales shot up in the year to June as a boost from the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations confounded the Eurozone crisis, according to a CBI survey published yesterday.

Some 58 per cent of retailers reported increased sales volumes, as opposed to just 17 per cent stating reductions.

In previous surveys retailers had only expected the balance of positive over negative responses to be at 25 per cent, so 41 per cent was a welcome surprise, and showed the broadest growth since December 2010.

Judith McKenna, chair of the CBI panel and chief operating officer of Asda pointed to the benefits of the Jubilee, saying it “provided a much-needed boost to our high streets.”

Yet McKenna warned: “Sales were below par for this time of year – weak consumer confidence and uncertainty are putting a brake on spending across the whole retail sector.”

Blerina Urici at Barclays Capital stressed that this “one-off increase does not change the underlying weakness in the sector – we expect a sharp reversal in the balance next month.”

Grocers reported an 85 per cent balance of positive over negative, while clothing stores saw a 69 per cent balance – footwear retailers reported a figure of 96 per cent, the highest on record.

On the other hand, motor traders faced a third consecutive negative balance, this time at minus five per cent, but expected growth in July, while hardware shops, chemists and specialist food and drink shops also saw negative reports outweigh positives.