The warmer weather helps lure shoppers into stores

The warmer weather helps lure shoppers into stores

Clothing helped drive sales at UK retailers in July, new figures show, exceeding expectations for minimal growth as the warmer weather helped entice shoppers into stores.

Around 48% of retailers said sales volumes were up in July on a year ago, while 26% said they were down, giving a balance of +22%. This out-performed expectations last month of +3%, according to the latest figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The figures, from the latest monthly CBI Distributive Trades Survey, were boosted by a strong year-on-year sales volume increase in clothing of 34% and grocery of 53%. Orders placed on suppliers also rose at a solid pace for a second consecutive month, increasing 32% on last year, while 22% placed fewer orders, giving a balance of +10%.

Overall, 23% of retailers reported that their volume of sales for the time of year were good, while 17% said they were poor, giving a balance of +6%.

The survey of 111 firms, of which 57 were retailers, showed sales for the time of year were considered to be slightly above seasonal norms. Looking ahead, retailers say they expect steady expansions in both sales and orders in the year to August, at paces similar to those seen this month.

"The warm summer has added a sizzle to our high streets as shoppers defied expectations, with sales growth in clothing shops and grocers driving overall performance," says Anna Leach, CBI head of economic intelligence.

"But while retailers expect a similar pace of growth next month, the factors underpinning their sales growth are more shaky. Although employment is strong, real incomes are falling in the wake of higher inflation, and that's expected to feed slower consumer spending growth ahead."