Summer sun and Olympic fever fail to reignite UK’s retail sales

Julian Harris
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RETAIL sales failed to significantly recover last month despite improved weather and the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, figures from the industry have revealed this morning.

Like-for-like sales in UK shops were virtually flat in July, edging up just 0.1 per cent compared to a year earlier, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

On the BRC’s annualised three monthly measure, intended to iron out volatility in the data, like-for-like sales growth remains sub-inflation, at 0.9 per cent.

Total sales, which include new shop floor developments, were up three per cent in the last three months, compared to the same period in 2011.

Yet Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, remains downbeat. “Sadly July was a lacklustre month and it’s doubtful this trend will change as early expectations that the Olympics will raise retailers’ fortunes look to be wide of the mark,” Dickinson said.

“Central London’s retailers are already being hit hard by shoppers actively avoiding the capital. It’s likely that any blip of benefit the games bring will be short lived.”

However, Stephen Robertson from the BRC added that some retailers have gained sales from extended Sunday opening hours.

Easing food inflation has resulted in the value of like-for-like food sales rising at a slower rate than non-food sales for the first time since May 2010. The data showed like-for-likes in food rising by 0.9 per cent in the three months to July compared to 12 months earlier, while non-food sales were up one per cent.