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Jubilee celebrations saved June for the retail sector

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10/07/2012
Last month's Jubilee celebrations brought a much a needed boost to the UK retail economy with like-for-like sales up from this time 2011.

UK retail sales values were up 1.4% on a like-for-like basis from June 2011, when they were down 0.6% on a year ago. On a total basis, sales were up 3.5%, against a 1.5% rise in June 2011.

The Jubilee celebrations and warm weather saw a strong start to trading period. Food and drink, clothing and footwear and online all performed particularly well during the week preceding the Jubilee.

Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “It was the bunting boost. June was saved by the feel-good 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. Food and clothing and footwear retailers had the best of it as people bought in special food and drink and, encouraged by warmer weather, some treated themselves to shorts, dresses and sandals.

The remainder of June proved much more challenging throughout the sector. Discretionary and big-ticket items continued to struggle as consumers’ underlying caution about the economy, jobs and their personal finances meant a tightening of purse strings.

Online, including mail-order and phone, sales of non-food items showed stronger growth, up 12.1% against growth of 11.5% last year. Sales growth returned to levels more consistent with the 12-month average.

Robertson continued: “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.”

Helen Dickinson, head of retail at 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.”

This comes as high street veteran Marks and Spencer reports a change in management following a tough sales period this year, despite bringing in high-profile celebrity names for its advertising campaigns. Sales on like-for-like items were down 2.8%.

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