Retail sales growth slows in July

British retail sales growth slowed in July as a sunny spell towards the end of the month failed to make up for weeks of rain which depressed sales of summer clothes and other seasonal products, reports UK Reuters.

The BRC’s findings tally with other surveys and retailers’ reports, showing that consumers were not in the mood for a shopping spree in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics.

Like-for-like retail sales – or sales at stores open for at least a year – rose by just 0.1 percent in value terms compared with July 2011, following a 1.4 percent increase in June, the BRC said.

The value of total retail sales, a measure favoured by economists and closer to that found in official statistics, was 2.0 percent up on the year, after a 3.5 percent climb in June.

“July was clearly not a golden month for retail,” said BRC Director General Stephen Robertson.

“After the June wash-out, more wet weather in July continued to stifle demand for outdoor gear,” he added.

“There was a boost for food retailers towards the end of the month as the sunshine came out and shoppers started getting in party food and drink ahead of the Olympics, but it wasn’t a significant help.”

Britain’s economy shrank much more than expected in the second quarter as the extra public holiday to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne hurt output, and the weak retail sales are denting hopes of a strong rebound ahead.

British consumers are struggling as rising prices and higher taxes have squeezed their budgets, and retailers have pinned high hopes on the Olympics to boost morale and spending.

“With only the opening couple of days of the Olympic Games covered by these statistics, we’ll have to wait a while to assess the overall impact on retail sales,” Robertson said.

“Let’s hope Team GB keeps on increasing its medal tally, bringing a feel-good factor that helps consumer confidence”.