Hot weather adds sizzle to retail sales
UNUSUALLY hot weather and aggressive discounting by retailers fuelled a surge in retail sales last month, official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed yesterday.
Figures from the ONS revealed that total retail sales rose by 1.2 per cent in June on the previous month, putting the annual rise on a seasonally-adjusted basis at 2.9 per cent. Last month’s hot weather meant that within predominantly non-food stores, the largest increase was in textile, clothing and footwear stores which rose by 11.3 per cent on last year.
Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retail sales were boosted by sunshine, promotions and discounts. But the wholesale turnaround in consumer confidence that retailers are looking for remains elusive. But fundamentally it’s still a picture of needs versus not-nows, with food retailers proving resilient while much of non-food retailing struggles.”
But monthly retail sales figures are volatile and analysts were cautious about calling a real end to the contraction in consumer spending.
Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight said: “Consumers remain under serious pressure from sharply higher and rising unemployment, markedly reduced earnings growth and heightened debt levels.”
But others were more optimistic. Vicky Redwood, UK economist at Capital Economics, said: “The good weather may have played a part, but this resilience is certainly nothing new. The big picture is still that the high street has been holding up surprisingly well since the start of the year.”
However, she cautions that the prospect of tax rises is looming large and households still need to pay off large amounts of debt.