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Sunshine adds some extra sizzle to retail sales in June

HOT, sunny weather helped retail sales rise 1.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis in June compared to the same period a year ago, according to figures published today by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).<br /><br />This is much higher than the 0.4 per cent fall in like-for-like sales expected by analysts, raising hopes of rising consumer spending despite tight credit conditions. The strength of consumer spending is critical to the UK&rsquo;s recovery prospects as consumption is about 60 per cent of GDP.<br /><br />On a like-for-like basis &ndash; which strips out new store openings &ndash; food sales rose 5.4 per cent in the three months to June compared to the second quarter of 2008. Non-food sales fell by 0.7 per cent, but the heatwave, together with clearance sales, boosted sales of clothing, footwear and outdoor leisure goods.<br /><br />Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: &ldquo;The sun knocked sales of big-ticket items, such as furniture and homewares, as people&rsquo;s attention focused on the outdoors. Given the uncertainty about jobs, customers are still nervous about spending on more expensive, non-essentials.&rdquo;<br /><br />More shoppers are now choosing to use the internet or the phone to order non-food items, with sales 16.8 per cent higher than a year ago.