Sun boosts sales of food and fans in July, but keeps shoppers away from the high street

Food and fans buoyed UK retail spending growth in July as consumers stayed cool and hosted barbecues, but the heatwave kept them away from the high street.
The British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed that over the three months to July total food sales increased 4.5pc, or 3.1pc on a like-for-like basis. This was the highest in five years, excluding Easter distortions.
Figures released earlier this month showed that supermarkets in particular were affected positively by the sunshine and World Cup, as alcohol sales soared to record highs in the 12 weeks to July 15.
Total non-food sales grew 0.2pc, or 1.2pc like-for-like, over the same time period. This is above the 12-month average, but is not as positive as the food figures.
Growth of online non-food sales fared better than those in-store, but were still lower than a year ago at 7.5pc, compared to 8.3pc in July 2017. This is below the 12-month average of 7.9pc.
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Overall, UK retail sales increased 0.5pc on a like-for-like basis over the year, compared to 0.9pc the year before.
Fans bucked the trend for non-food shopping, as cooling equipment “flew off the shelves”.
Consumers remained optimistic during this period, with 60pc looking forward to the future.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Last month’s sweltering temperatures kept shoppers focused on eating, drinking and keeping cool. Food sales had their best July in five years, while fans and cooling equipment flew off the shelves.
“Although the weather generates a shift in month-to-month spending, trend growth remains very low by historical standards. Physical stores have been particularly affected by pressures on consumers while costs borne by retailers have continued to rise.
Sun boosts sales of food and fans in July, but keeps shoppers away from the high street

Supermarket alcohol sales hit a record high in the 12 weeks to July 15

Rui Vieira/PA
“Over the last year, in-store sales of non-food products fell 2.5pc, at the same time as business rates bills increased nearly 3pc.”
Paul Martin, the UK Head of Retail at KPMG said that barbecues, picnics and football parties accounted for most of the increase in food and drink sales.
“July’s performance reinforces the fact that it will take more than events-based retail and sunshine to improve the health of the high-street," he said.
“Retailers must improve efficiency, in many cases reinvent themselves and adapt to the changing retail environment, including last week’s interest rate rise.”
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