Figures reported yesterday by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and accountancy giant KPMG suggest there was no Olympics boost to retail sales in July.
UK retail sales values were up just 0.1% last month on a like-for-like basis from July 2011. On a total basis, sales were up 2% compared with a 2.5% rise in July 2011.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “July was clearly not a golden month for retail. Like-for-like sales were virtually flat compared with a year ago and total growth of 2% was still behind inflation as consumers, dealing with squeezed budgets, prioritised their spending on essentials.
“There was a boost for food retailers towards the end of the month as the sunshine came out and shoppers started getting in party food and drink ahead of the Olympics but it wasn’t a significant help.
“The brightest spot was clothing and footwear thanks to cooler weather coinciding with autumn ranges reaching the shops. Some retailers also benefitted from the longer Sunday opening hours brought in for the Olympic period.
“With only the opening couple of days of the Olympic Games covered by these statistics we’ll have to wait a while to assess the overall impact on retail sales. Let’s hope Team GB keeps on increasing its medal tally, bringing a feelgood factor that helps consumer confidence.”
KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson added: “Sadly July was a lacklustre month and it’s doubtful this trend will change as early expectations that the Olympics will raise retailers’ fortunes look to be wide of the mark. Central London’s retailers are already being hit hard by shoppers actively avoiding the capital. It’s likely that any blip of benefit the games bring will be short lived.”
In the homewares category, home accessories and house textiles sales were down on last year as continued consumer caution curtailed discretionary purchases. Renewed weakness in the housing market meant sales were tough and heavily discounted.