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Retail sales see strongest growth for 18 months

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The total value of like-for-like sales in the United Kingdom was up 1.8 percent on year in June, the British Retail Consortium said on Tuesday.

On a total basis, sales were up 2.9 per cent against a 0.6 per cent rise in June 2014. During June online sales outperformed both the three-month and 12-month averages of 14.6% and 12.6% respectively. The Non-Food online penetration rate was 18.4%, up from 16.9% in June 2014.

Furniture sales were strong in the June trading period. It also represents the fastest growth since August 2014 after a slow start to 2015 for online sales.

Edinburgh-based David McCorquodale, head of accountancy firm and BRC survey sponsor KPMG’s United Kingdom retail sector practice, said: “As the Wimbledon tennis championships got under way, June served up an ace for sales of non-food items”.

In May, United Kingdom retail sales value had been up by 1.1 per cent on the same month of a year ago.

BRC analysis showed that growth came strongly from the fashion sector, with retailers starting summer sales earlier than usual in a move that coincided with a heat wave at the end of June.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson added: “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”.

Dickinson added: ‘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.’. For retailers, online is an increasingly useful tool to reach customers selectively and showcase their offer. 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. “After cooler May weather had dampened fashion sales, the glorious sunshine and some significant promotional activity…lured consumers into a rush to update summer wardrobes”.

The data, published this morning by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), is the latest evidence of booming consumer spending in the UK.

Mr McCorquodale said this month observers would scrutinise the share prices of listed retailers to see how they performed after the Chancellor announced he would introduce the living wage across the United Kingdom next year.


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