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UK retail sales growth strengthens in June

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 07:09
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British retail sales saw some of their strongest annual growth in the past two years last month, boosted by warm weather at the end of the month and an early start to summer sales, an industry body said on Tuesday.

[LONDON] British retail sales saw some of their strongest annual growth in the past two years last month, boosted by warm weather at the end of the month and an early start to summer sales, an industry body said on Tuesday.

The British Retail Consortium said total spending in June was 2.9 per cent up on the year, the strongest month since January 2014 if distortions due to the timing of Easter are stripped out of the data, which is not seasonally adjusted.

Sales on a like-for-like basis, which adjusts for changes in floorspace and is preferred by stores and equity analysts, were up by 1.8 per cent. This was also the highest non-Easter reading since January 2014.

"We saw welcome signs of growing consumer confidence, with people more willing to 'trade-up' and spend a bit more on big-ticket purchases, likely boosted by the growth in the supply of credit and other factors such as low inflation and rising real incomes," BRC Director General Helen Dickinson said.

Some of the boost looks likely to be temporary, however. The BRC said June's figure was flattered by a weak June a year earlier, and that sales were also boosted by a jump in sales of outdoor toys in the last week of June, when the weather was unusually warm.

This warm weather also coincided with an early start to seasonal clothing sales, as stores sought to shift clothes which had not been bought earlier in the month, when the weather was cooler than usual for the time of year.

Mr Dickinson said finance minister George Osborne's July 8 budget was likely to boost future consumer spending, as it froze taxation on vehicle fuel and increased the amount people can earn before paying tax.

Mr Osborne also said he would allow local authorities to extend store opening hours on Sundays, and increase the minimum wage for those aged 25 and over.

REUTERS