Hottest July fails to deter high street shoppers

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The Independent Online

Shoppers braved searing temperatures last month to snap up seasonal products, providing an unexpected shot in the arm for some of the UK's leading retailers, a survey showed yesterday.

During the hottest July on record, retail sales surged 3.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis, which strips out new floor space or store closures, the British Retail Consortium said. This followed a World Cup-related high street boom in June.

Not all retailers enjoyed the heat, with sales of food, drink and summer clothing compensating for weak demand for furniture, carpets and men's and women's formal wear. Food retailers enjoyed the strongest sales growth since summer 2003, the last time the weather was abnormally hot.

But Moss Bros, the suit specialists, blamed a combination of summer sunshine and England's football fixtures for its worst six months in four years yesterday. Carpetright was another victim of the heatwave. Its like-for-like sales fell 0.3 per cent during the first 13 weeks of its year.

In the quarter to July, like-for-like retail sales growth dipped to 3.1 per cent from 4.1 per cent in the three months to June. But City economists said that did not alter the fact that consumers were proving more resilient than many had feared in the spring. But after last week's rate rise to 4.75 per cent, retailers were less positive about the outlook.