Retail sales rise in June, but July off to slow start

Retail sales jumped four times faster than forecasted during June with high street sales rising 1.2% compared to the previous month, according to the Office for National Statistics.


Figures were particularly buoyed by clothing sales, with many retailers bringing their sales campaigns forward, significantly slashing prices during the month.

Food stores saw a 0.7% increase in sales, while non-food sales retailers saw a 1.6% rise. Textile, clothing and footwear stores enjoyed their first increase in three months, up 4.7%.

The overall 1.2% sales rise was in contrast to the 0.9% fall experienced in May.

Elsewhere, in another survey, high street figures for the week ending 19 July reveals fears over swine flu and continued uncertainty about the economy led to a 4.1% decline in like-for-like sales.

Accounting firm BDO Stoy Hayward’s weekly High Street Sales Tracker, reported a lacklustre week for fashion retailers, with sales falling 8% for the week.

The change of focus last week towards new, full priced lines generally had a negative impact, with some stores registering their worst performance in over two months.

It found however that sales in non-fashion stores was generally more positive, up 3.8%, with demand picking up at the weekend, buoyed by the start of the school holidays.

Leisure goods and gifting led the way for a second week in a row, with luxury remaining strong.

While health and beauty was weaker, swine flu fears led to strong sales for antibacterial hand gel.

The homewares market saw the strongest sales growth for the week, up 32.9%. Takings grew at their fastest rate since mid-May. Demand rose in most areas, particularly in furniture and textiles.

Don Williams, BDO Stoy Hayward retail partner says overall sales were in negative territory for a fourth consecutive week (-4.1%) with the economy and swine flu fears playing heavily in consumers’ minds.

“Trade via non-store channels were also relatively weak as the transition from summer clearance to full priced stock failed to stimulate significant new demand.

“However it is encouraging to see that homewares and non-fashion bucked this downward trend this week, with homewares particularly seeing an upturn in sales. Hopefully, the seasonal boost from the start of the school summer holidays will help supplement this positive movement.”

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