Belfast Telegraph

Barbecues fire an upturn as sales grow with temperatures

By Roger Baird

Shoppers buying barbecues and summer outfits led to retail sales beating expectations in July.

The latest CBI monthly distributive trades survey found that activity bounced back strongly in the month after a marked slowdown in June.

The report found a balance of plus 21% of retailers said sales were higher this month, compared with a year ago, topping expectations of plus 17%.

The CBI said that shops selling clothes, groceries and furniture fared best, while retailers expect the good news to continue with plus 36% of them believing that sales will grow in August.

The pick-up in expectations in July comes after disappointing figures for June, with just plus 4% of retailers experiencing higher sales than a year ago.

The UK's economy has been growing this year driven by consumer spending and rising house prices. Earlier this week another CBI report on manufacturing found only 2% of UK manufacturers reported an increase in orders this month while exports were flat.

Barry Williams, chairman of the CBI's distributive trades survey panel, said: "As the temperature began to rise, it seems so did sales volumes. Almost all sectors saw growth, with grocers and clothing stores telling us they performed particularly well as people bought barbecue supplies and summer outfits.

"Retailers expect an even faster rise in sales volumes next month."

HIS Global Insight chief UK economist Howard Archer said: "It may well be that consumers were inspired to spend in July by the better weather and summer holidays. Many consumers may well have deliberately taken a breather in June ahead of their summer holidays after splashing out at a pretty rapid rate earlier on this year.

"However, it is questionable how strong consumer spending can be on a sustained basis until earnings growth picks up appreciably." The CBI said 66 retailers responded to the survey.

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