Fuel promotions boost retail sales
Thursday 16 August 2012
A glut of promotions on petrol and high levels of discounting on the high street helped drive a surprise rise in retail sales in July.
Retail sales volumes rose 0.3% between June and July, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, defying expectations of a 0.1% fall.
And the figure for June was revised significantly higher to 0.8% from a previous estimate of 0.1% after additional information was received from retailers.
Strong fuel sales were the main driver of growth as supermarkets put on special offers to boost trade, while sales volumes excluding fuel were flat despite the ongoing discounting on the high street but this was still better than the 0.2% fall expected in the City.
The period covered the first two days of the Olympics but the ONS said this had no noticeable impact on sales.
Meanwhile, there was welcome news for hard-pressed consumers after the ONS said shop price inflation slowed to 0.2% in July, its lowest rate since October 2009.
Economists had feared that sales volumes would be weaker in July amid anecdotal evidence that retailers had been forced to bring traditional summer sales forward to June in a bid to boost trade amid the wash-out start to the summer.
But the figures suggest that continued discounting and improved weather in the second half of July helped boost trade.
Vicky Redwood, UK economist at Capital Economics, said: "The latest UK retail sales figures are pretty good - as much for the upward revisions to past months as for July's figure.
"What's more, sales should maintain this recent positive momentum in the near term as the boost from the Olympics comes through."
She believes August's figures will benefit from the feel-good factor around Team GB's success but fears sales may slow again later in the year.
The big upward revision to June's data brings it more in line with industry reports which suggested that retailers benefited from the celebrations surrounding the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
The revision means that retail sales volumes fell 0.3% in the second quarter of 2012, up from the previous estimate of 0.7%.
But because retail is only a small part of the economy, this is not expected to have a significant impact on the reading for GDP in the second quarter of 2012, which shrank by 0.7%, according to preliminary estimates.
Food retailers saw a 0.4% increase in sales volumes in July although non-food stores continued to suffer, with volumes down 1.8% on the previous month.
The strong growth of internet sales continued, with sales up 14% on the previous year to over £500 million. The internet now accounts for 8.5% of all retail sales excluding fuel.
British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said sales growth slowed between June and July as the sector failed to receive a pre-Olympics boost.
He said: "July was no golden month for retailers despite the build-up to the Olympics.
"We'll need to see August's figures for the full picture. But with disposable incomes still under pressure and with inflation sneaking back up, underlying conditions remain challenging for the sector."
- 1 Kermit the Frog has a new girlfriend named Denise
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The one chart that shows how George Osborne is almost certainly going to be our next Prime Minister
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
iJobs Money & Business
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a vibrant and establishe...