Retail sales increase despite last month’s cold weather

THE VALUE of last month’s retail sales was up 1.8 per cent like-for-like on the previous May despite the unpredictable temperatures, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed this morning.

There was growth in both the food and non-food categories, rising in line with inflation.

Most expansion in the value of sales came from online purchases, which jumped 11 per cent in the same 12 month period.

KPMG’s head of retail, David McCorquodale, said: “While sales didn’t soar through the roof, this is still a very creditable performance.”

“These are back to basics sales that haven’t been artificially boosted by one-off factors like Easter or last year’s Jubilee,” he added.

Seasonal fashion sales, which usually improve in May, have seen a more mixed performance as weather has waxed and waned.

Consumers also remained more price-sensitive, but are increasingly responding positively to good deals.

Though many consumers’ household budgets remain strained, the BRC’s director general, Helen Dickinson said: “retailers are using a skilful mix of deals and discounts”.

“Respectable growth suggests that customers are responding well”, she added.

On a total basis, sales were up 3.4 per cent, the same amount that total sales had increased during May last year.

Total growth of 3.4 per cent was above the three-month average of 2.3 per cent and ahead of the long-term 12-month average of 2.5 per cent.