Warm weather drove UK retail sales to their highest growth since 2006 as like-for-like sales rose by 2.2% from July 2012, up from a 0.1% increase for the same period last year.
According to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor report, total sales grew 3.9% against a 2% increase in July 2012, the fastest July growth since 2006 – the last time the UK experienced a prolonged heatwave.
KPMG said the figures marked a return to form for British retailers. David McCoCorquodale, head of retail at the accountancy firm said: “July was a golden month for retail sales. Hopefully this uptick in sales is another indication that the UK economy has turned the corner towards growth.
“Sales of food and drink soared as consumers popped open the bubbly and held barbecues to celebrate the royal family’s newest arrival, Murray’s Wimbledon triumph and the warm delights of summer.
“Whilst this month’s figures will be a relief after last year’s washout summer saw shoppers stay at home, some of these sales were heavily driven by discounting. Whether retailers have sacrificed too much margin to drive these sales remains to be seen.???”
The July heatwave boosted both the food and fashion sectors, although home categories, such as furniture and flooring, home accessories, and house textiles, took a downturn.
Online sales were also affected, up 7.9% compared with July 2012, when they had risen by 15.6%.
In real terms, total growth was 4.4%, the fastest since April 2011.
Helen Dickinson, director general at the British Retail Consortium, said July saw “a very solid sales performance.”
She explained: “This is the second best month this year and better than we’ve seen in any July since 2006. It has been driven by the warm weather and retailers working hard to offer deep discounts and great offers to their customers, with the reduction in shop prices we reported for July translating into more generous spending in UK stores.”