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Business News

'Bunting boost' lifts retailers, but June is a washout for sales

A Diamond Jubilee "bunting boost" for the high street saved retailers' blushes last month, but the June deluge washed out sales for the rest of the month, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has reported.

Shoppers temporarily put aside fears over the economy to pack in party foods like crisps, cake and dips ahead of the long weekend, leaving like-for-like retail sales up by 1.4 per cent on a year earlier. But the wettest June on record killed off sales for the rest of the month as retailers struggled to shift summer clothes.

Stephen Robertson, the BRC's director general, said: "It was the bunting boost. June was saved by the feelgood lift of the Jubilee, showing how crucial these temporary factors are in difficult trading conditions."

He added: "Sadly, the soggy celebrations over the Jubilee weekend itself, which heralded the start of the wettest June on record, were followed by far weaker business for the rest of the month."

Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, added: "Women's clothing continues to find the going tough because fashion spending is especially discretionary and we've all forgotten what the sun looks like."

Even the England football team's better-than-expected showing at the European Championships failed to offer a significant boost to sales as consumers remained reluctant to shell out on big-ticket goods. Overall retail sales during the past three months were down by 0.1 per cent on a year earlier.

Data from Visa Europe – based on debit, credit and prepaid card transactions accounting for a third of UK consumer spending – confirmed the sluggish trend. Spending fell at an accelerated rate in June, sliding 3.8 per cent year-on-year against a 1.8 per cent annual fall in May, its figures showed.

Visa Europe's commercial director, Steve Perry, said: "Blaming the rain for shoppers staying away from the high street will not wash, as online spending was down 5.5 per cent and telephone orders down 8 per cent. Although the Jubilee generated a modest boost in month-on-month consumer spending, the underlying trend remains dreary."