Belfast Telegraph

UK retail sales on up as temperatures rise

By Ben Woods

Retail sales rebounded last month as one of the warmest Junes on record inspired a spending spree on summer clothes and beauty products.

Figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG showed total sales rose by 2% in June, up from 0.2% growth for the same month last year.

Online sales of non-food products also bounced back from May's record lows, expanding by 10.1% last month in contrast to a 9% jump in June 2016.

Paul Martin, KPMG's UK head of retail, said businesses should remain cautious, with inflation and household debt "fuelling part of this retail growth".

He said: "For fashion retailers the boost in sales could not have come soon enough. Following a challenging year so far, it appears the higher temperatures thankfully provided an increased interest in summer collections.

"Elsewhere, the sun also shone on health and beauty sales too, with the category continuing to be a top performer."

On a like-for-like basis, sales grew by 1.2% over the period, compared to a 0.5% fall last year. Total food sales also expanded, by 4.7% for the three months to June - the strongest 16-week average since February 2012.

While the warm weather heralded a "welcome pick-up" for sales growth, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson questioned whether spending could continue amid rising inflation and sluggish wage growth.

Inflation jumped to a four-year high at 2.9% in May, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while average earnings recorded a month-on-month fall of 0.2% to grow by 2.1% in April.

Ms Dickinson said: "The six-month average, buoyed by June's strong performance, now paints a slightly rosier picture for retail sales."

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