UK retail sales boosted by World Cup and warm weather

But British Retail Consortium warns that uncertainty remains
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TVs and other non-food products contributed strongly to a total sales rebound on the High Street in May.

Latest figures from the British Retail Consortium show that UK retail sales rose 0.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis from May 2009, when sales had fallen 0.8 per cent. On a total basis, sales were up 3.0 per cent against a 0.8 per cent increase in May 2009.

Non-food, non-store sales (those via internet, mail order and phone) in May were 21.9 per cent higher than a year ago, up fron 15.9 per cent in April. Although the best since December, May’s gain was against relatively weak growth in May 2009.

“The sunnier second half of May provided a welcome boost to overall sales,” said Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium. “The warmer weather, combined with discounts and promotions, encouraged spending on clothing, footwear, outdoor DIY and gardening.

“The run-up to the World Cup helped sales of televisions, though this was largely discount-driven.

“Consumer confidence has clearly improved since last year’s lows. But there’s still plenty of uncertainty, which is making consumers nervous about buying expensive goods, despite widespread reductions. This month’s emergency Budget should provide more clarity.”

Focusing on the non-food, non-store sector, Robertson added: “This is excellent sales growth – the highest since December. Customers took advantage of the many online deals and promotions, especially on televisions in the lead-up to the World Cup.

“But we’ve got to put these figures into context: it’s compared with last year’s very weak performance – the lowest growth for at least 18 months.”

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