Belfast Telegraph

Sodden weather leaves some retailers adrift

By Jamie Grierson and David Elliot

Retailers treaded water last month as a promotion-led boost for clothing stores was overshadowed by a weather-hit performance from food outlets.

Retail sales volumes edged 0.1% higher between May and June, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, far short of expectations of 0.6% growth.

The figures came as a number of retailers revealed a difficult summer, with Mothercare, JJB Sports and Halfords all revealing dismal results.

The wettest June on record since 1910 was behind a 0.7% drop in food sales last month, the ONS said, while clothing retailers saw sales jump 2.5% as they brought forward their summer sales.

The impact of discounting and slowing inflation was seen in the 0.5% drop in retail sales values between May and June.

Against expectations, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations proved to be a damp squib for retailers as the ONS said it did not have a "significant impact" on sales.

The weak performance in retail will dash hopes that the economy might have emerged from its double-dip recession in the second quarter, ahead of growth figures next week.

The economy entered a technical recession in the first quarter of the year, with gross domestic product declining 0.2%, following a 0.3% drop in the final quarter of last year.

The retail sector forms part of the powerhouse services industry, which accounts for 75% of the total economy in the UK.

Department stores saw 0.2% growth, while household goods stores grew by 0.3%.

Graeme Maclaughlin, from Barclays, in Belfast, said the weather helped the sale of household goods.

"Most households are benefiting from the recent drop in inflation, including petrol prices, and although the weather has been less than ideal, consumers have spent more time indoors than out which has helped to boost sales of household goods," he said.

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