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Warmest ever May on record brightens up retail sales

Warmest ever May on record brightens up retail sales
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

Retail sales rose by 2.9% last month after the hottest May on record brought welcome sunshine for shoppers and stores alike, statistics reveal.

Sales volumes across the majority of sectors including clothing and furniture retailers felt a much-needed boost after a poor period.

Across the three months up to May, sales rose by 1% but were down 0.2% when compared to the same time frame the year before, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In the warmest May on record, which also had an extra bank holiday for the coronation of King Charles III, retail sales bounced back from the 1.8% dip in April.

Non-food store sales, which includes clothing, household and department products, rose by 3.5% – the largest monthly increase since April 2021. Those figures signify a boost from the 3% nosedive in April.

With more outdoor activities on the agenda for shoppers, there was a strong growth in clothing and footwear retailers. Sports equipment sales also grew, with football fans getting kitted out ahead of the European Championship, which is set to boost the economy even further.

It was not just on the high street where shoppers parted ways with their cash more, for online spending also shot up by 5.4%.

‘Little wonder Brits obsessed with weather’

Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell, said: “There’s little wonder we Brits are obsessed with the weather. It exerts a huge amount of control over our lives, dictating what we can and can’t do and crucially for retailers, impacting our buying decisions.

“Supermarkets have long had forecasters who pore over meteorological charts so they know when to fill up the fridges and freezers with burgers and ice cream and when to stock up on hearty soups.

“A bit of sunshine in the month of May [that] helped lift temperatures and spirits translated into a bump in sales, especially for clothing and furniture retailers.”

Hewson added: “People were finally able to return the sweaters to the back of their wardrobes, and with a couple of long weekends to socialise, they were minded to splash out on some new summer clothing.”

The hot climes in the UK also led to an increase in gardens getting “spruced up” ahead of the school holidays.

Hewson also notes there could be yet more optimism among shoppers, with inflation dropping to the Bank of England’s target of 2% yesterday.

On top of this, she says many are also feeling the benefit and “spending the extra few pennies they’re getting thanks to the cut in National Insurance.”

“But the old saying about fixing the roof whilst the sun shines holds true, especially in the UK, and a wet summer could change everything”, Hewson said.