Belfast Telegraph

Retail sales rebound as warm weather boosts clothing figures

Retail sales rebounded in June as consumers showed their resilience by spending strongly on clothing during the warm weather, figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said sales rose by 0.6% in terms of quantity compared with May, with a quarterly increase of 1.5%.

The growth in the second quarter follows a 1.4% decline in the first quarter, with feedback from retailers suggesting warmer weather and the introduction of summer ranges helped boost clothing sales.

Average store prices, including petrol stations, increased by 2.7% on the year, which was down from 3.2% in May as fuel prices slowed.

Online sales increased year-on-year by 15.9% and by 1.8% on the month, accounting for around 16.2% of retail spending.

ONS senior statistician Kate Davies said: "Today's retail sales figures show overall growth. A particularly warm June seems to have prompted strong sales in clothing, which has compensated for a decline in food and fuel sales for the month.

"Looking at the quarterly data, the underlying trend as suggested by the three-month on three-month movement is one of growth, following a fall in quarter one, suggesting a relatively flat first half of 2017."

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: " This news adds to a renewed sense of optimism on the UK's economic prospects.

"Spending seems to be holding up despite falling real wages, and if the sterling-driven spike in inflation is finally receding we could see a stronger contribution from the UK consumer in the second half of the year."

Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays Corporate Banking, said: "After a tricky start to the year, the pickup in sales in June will provide welcome relief for the UK's retail sector.

"Good weather early in the season is always a boost for fashion retailers, so they will have been delighted to see the sun shining brightly for much of the country, helping increase footfall and shift summer lines.

"Lower fuel prices slightly eased the inflationary pressures being faced by British consumers, meaning that shoppers had a little more cash to spend on other things."