High street sales growth slows despite warmer weather boost
High street sales growth slowed in July despite a rush by s hoppers to snap up summer clothing in the recent warmer weather, according to figures.
The latest retail survey from the CBI showed that retailers are also expecting a further slowdown in sales growth next month as the sector's performance has slipped since hitting a five-month high in May.
The figures reveal the retail sales balance for the year to July fell for a second successive month, dropping to 21 from 29 in June.
This was also below economist forecasts.
And the survey of 117 firms showed a gloomy outlook, with expectations for the year to August showing a balance of just 13 - a two-year low for the index.
But the CBI said sales volumes are broadly average for the time of year and are expected to remain so in August.
The data showed July's heatwave spurred on strong demand for summer wear, with a balance of 78% for clothing sales - the fastest growth since January.
Sales were flat for food shops and grocers for the second month in a row and fell for footwear and leather stores.
Barry Williams, CBI Distributive Trades chairman and Asda's chief customer officer, said: "Summer trading is traditionally slower across the retail sector, but warm weather can often provide a welcome boost, as we saw towards the end of June and the beginning of this month.
"Despite the upbeat outlook for the UK economy, retailers are still finding conditions challenging and it's certainly something every shopkeeper will need to keep an eye on."
Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight, said consumers may be "taking a bit of a breather" after robust spending in the first half of the year.
He added: "While the CBI distributive survey shows softer retail sales growth in July it is still relatively decent."