Monthly figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show that sales, on a like-for-like basis, rose 1.4%, compared with June last year. On a total basis, sales were up 3.5%, against a 1.5% rise in June 2011.
The statistics show that the Jubilee celebrations and warm weather gave a strong start to trading period, though the rest of the month proved more challenging. Discretionary and big-ticket items continued to struggle as consumers’ underlying caution about the economy, jobs and their personal finances curtailed spending. Online sales of non-food items showed stronger growth, up 12.1% against growth of 11.5% last year.
For homewares, home accessories and house textiles sales were down on last year, but against strong comparatives. Continued weakness in the housing market meant sales were hard-fought and often promotion-led. The “improve, not move” trend continued for some retailers.
British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: “It was the bunting boost. June was saved by the feelgood lift of the Jubilee, showing how crucial these temporary factors are in our difficult trading conditions.
“A trip to the shops played a big part in preparations for the occasion. The week leading up to the long weekend was a stand-out for the retail sector. Sadly the soggy celebrations over the Jubilee weekend itself, which heralded the start of the wettest June on record, were followed by far weaker business for the rest of the month. Belts were tightened again and the lower temperatures cooled demand for summer fashions and outdoor leisure goods.
“With the first half of the year complete, we can see total sales growth between this January and June was no better than in 2011. It’s clear a permanent upturn in confidence and spending has yet to happen. Scrapping next month’s fuel duty rise will help hard-pressed customers and businesses. The Government needs to be equally supportive as it considers where next for other costs it controls.”
Looking ahead, Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: “Retailers are fervently hoping that the summer of sport will raise cash for their coffers. But the reality is that any benefit from the Olympics will probably be concentrated in the south-east and provide more of a boost for food than non-food. Overall there will be plenty of hype, a short term blip of benefit, and then back to normality and the challenges that brings.”