weather at the tail end of May boosted UK retail sales, according to the latest
statistics by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG. The figures
showed UK retail sales values were up 1.3% on a like-for-like basis from May
2011. On a total basis, sales were up 3.4% against a 0.3% decline in May 2011.
Miserable weather at the start of the month turned to glorious sunshine which boosted sales of food and drink, clothing and footwear to turn around what could have been a dismal May, the BRC said. Online sales of non-food items showed stronger growth, rising 12.4% against a 10.4% rise last year. "As the relentlessly difficult underlying conditions continue to make trading tough for retailers, any temporary boost is of even greater importance and retailers had plenty of reason to celebrate the eventual arrival of summer at the end of May," said BRC director general Stephen Robertson.
"Much of the month's positive performance can be attributed to spending in the final week when consumers responded enthusiastically to the sun coming out. It's likely the prolonged wet period helped create pent-up demand and people also felt more relaxed about their spending as the sun created a feel-good boost," Robertson added. "Small numbers of customers buying jeans and knitwear in the first weeks of May became many more people purchasing skirts, shorts and swimwear by the end of the month. Women's wear had its best growth this year."
KPMG head of retailer Helen Dickinson said retailers are also hoping the Jubilee celebrations will have helped to pull them out of the mire, but a "short-term patriotic spending spree will not overcome the underlying difficulties facing the industry - which remains under pressure from a combination of declining consumer confidence and squeezed incomes". She added that while no sector put in a star performance, but there was a focus on spending on children, with children's wear seeing a double-digit sales uplift.