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Warm sunshine gives superficial sales burst in May
Jun '08
UK retail sales values rose 1.9% on a like-for-like basis, compared with May 2007, when sales were up 1.8%. May's gain followed year-on-year declines in March and April, the worst since Spring 2005. Some warm sunny days this May compared with very wet weather last May boosted sales growth, but underlying trade remained tough, with widespread discounting.

Furniture and larger homewares remained well down on a year ago, despite continued discounts and promotions. Consumer confidence has dropped sharply to new lows. Increasing demands on household budgets and the weakness of the housing market mean shoppers are very price-conscious and reluctant to spend on big-ticket items.

Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said:
“After several mostly miserable months, warm sunny weather finally arrived in early May and helped lift customers' gloom. Significantly clothing sales saw year-on-year growth for the first time since last August, while sales of footwear, outdoor leisure and gardening goods also rose.

But we are not out of the woods yet. The economic fundamentals remain weak. BRC/Nielsen consumer confidence figures show the economy is the major concern for a third of people. The housing slowdown and tighter household budgets meant that, despite heavy discounting, furniture sales were well down on a year ago and there was a continued slowdown for electrical goods.”

Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG, said:
“May's figures represent a significant improvement on the previous couple of months and were achieved through a much more consistent performance across the different sectors, the exception being anything home-related, particularly big-ticket electricals which continue to struggle.

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