Belfast Telegraph

Heatwave drives up sales on high street

By David Elliott

UK retailers will be hoping the warmer weather continues after new data revealed the sunshine helped drive the first rise in retail sales for five months.

The CBI's monthly Distributive Trades Survey of 60 retailers saw sales in July climb at a stronger pace than expected compared to the same time last year with a happier consumer said to be helping business.

"The feel-good factor from the heatwave and early summer sales has helped boost high street sales, after a very weak start to the year," Stephen Gifford, CBI director of economics, said, cautioning that there is still some way to go before sales return to a semblance of normality.

"A return to even modest spending is welcome news but the bottom line is that confidence will not bounce back fully until family finances improve significantly."

But the weather, and other events, will play a part in the coming weeks.

"A positive knock-on effect on retail sales from the royal baby has been mooted, but much more realistically, continued good weather and discounts will play a greater role in retail growth over the next month."

Sales of clothing saw the biggest jump of all sectors during July, while footwear also put in a strong performance.

A boon for department store owners came with many reporting sales in this area had grown at their strongest since 1983.

Other sub-sectors – including furniture & carpets and specialist food & drink – saw falling sales volumes, while grocery sales growth remained modest.

The headline reading found 43% of firms reported that sales volumes were up on a year earlier and 26% said they were down – the resulting balance of +17% was the highest since January 2013 (+17%).

This was slightly above expectations of +13%.

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