UK retail sales increased 1.8% on a like-for-like basis from June 2014, when they had decreased 0.8% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 2.9%, against a 0.6% rise in June 2014. This is the strongest growth since January 2014, excluding Easter distortions and compares with a 12-month average of 1.6%. Adjusted for the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index deflation, total growth was 4.2%.
Total Food sales grew again in June for the seventh month in a row, excluding Easter distortions, ahead of their 0.3% decline over the last 12 months. Total Non-Food sales grew 2.6% over the 3 months to June, close to their 12-month average growth of 3.1%.
Toys & Baby Equipment was the best performing category, helped by outdoor toys, particularly in the last week of the month, when the heat wave stimulated the sales of all seasonal items. Fashion categories were helped by several retailers going into summer sale earlier than last year.
Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 17.6% in June versus a year earlier, when they had grown 10.6%. The Non-Food online penetration rate was 18.4%, up from 16.9% in June2014.
Helen Dickinson, director general, British Retail Consortium, said: “The retail industry performed strongly last month, experiencing the best overall sales growth in eighteen months, excluding Easter distortions, albeit on the back of a weak June last year. Food sales grew for the seventh month in a row, while June also brought with it a boost for the non-food categories, with furniture doing particularly well. Fashion sales were also up, but this was likely helped by several retailers entering summer sales a little earlier this year. The last week of June ended the month on a high note, with seasonal items like outdoor toys in high demand.
“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. Some of the measures outlined by the Chancellor in last week’s budget are likely to help boost consumer confidence even further, with measures like the continued freeze in fuel duty and the increased personal tax allowance ensuring consumers have more money in their pockets to spend. We also welcome the Chancellor’s focus on increasing productivity. This is of crucial importance to enhancing retailers’ ability to continue to serve their customers better.”
David McCorquodale, head of retail, KPMG, said: “As the Wimbledon tennis championships got underway, June served up an ace for sales of non-food items. After cooler May weather had dampened fashion sales, the glorious sunshine and some significant promotional activity this month lured consumers into a rush to update summer wardrobes. Men’s fashion and footwear sales were also given a particular boost as Dads were treated to something special on Father’s Day.
“Elsewhere, sales of Toys & Baby Equipment bounced up towards the end of the month with seasonal outdoor ranges such as paddling pools and trampolines soaring as consumers looked to make the most of June’s heatwave. The grocers continued to fight to make headway against a deflationary tide. The quarterly decline is distorted by the timing of Easter and I expect to see a better picture emerge next month.
“Moving into July, many eyes will be trained on sector share prices after the market reacted strongly to a number of surprise announcements, particularly around the living wage, in the Chancellor’s Summer Budget. However, with Murray-mania having once again swept the nation, another heatwave on the horizon, and school holidays imminent, retailers will be hoping that the nation’s feel good factor will continue all summer long.”
Food & Drink sector performance
Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive, IGD, said: “June’s food and drink sales were encouraging, especially if judged against the same time last year when the men’s football World Cup provided a brief boost to sales. The heatwave in the final week definitely helped this year’s performance.
“Wages have now outpaced inflation for eight consecutive months and although a quarter (26%) of shoppers still expect their personal finances to deteriorate over the next 12 months, this is a big improvement on the 47% predicting the same in June 2012. With deflation also easing, there are various reasons to believe that food retail sales might have turned a corner although optimism is tempered by the many uncertainties in the global economy.”