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UK retail sales rebound as heat wave boosts clothing demand

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UK retailers received a summer boost last month as sweltering temperatures spurred sales of clothing.

[LONDON] UK retailers received a summer boost last month as sweltering temperatures spurred sales of clothing.

The quantity of goods sold in stores and online rose 0.6 per cent, more than economists forecast, following a 1.1 per cent decline in May, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed Thursday. Sales excluding auto fuel jumped 0.9 per cent.

It means stores made a contribution to growth in the second quarter, with sales rising 1.5 per cent from the previous three months. That adds almost 0.1 per cent to GDP, the ONS said.

Britons basked in the hottest June temperatures since 1976 last month, with some parts of England seeing the mercury climb well above 30 degrees Celsius. That boosted sales of new fashion lines, with clothing sales rising 0.4 per cent, the ONS said. That helped to offset declines in food and fuel sales.

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There was also evidence of spending on clothing linked to the festival of Eid as Muslims marked the end of the month-long Ramadan fast.

Sales rose in almost every category last month. Spending on clothes helped lift sales at department stores by 2.7 per cent and sales of household goods rose 3.3 per cent. Food sales fell 0.5 per cent, partly due to weaker alcohol demand.

Sales rose 2.9 per cent from a year earlier, up from growth of 0.9 per cent in May.

The rebound in the second quarter - sales slumped 1.4 per cent in the first - may nonetheless do little to dispel concerns about the outlook for spending as inflation puts household budgets under increasing strain.

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