Sales at Argos and Homebase rose with the mercury as sunny summer weather stoked demand for seasonal lines.
Multichannel retailer Argos posted a like-for-like advance of 2.7% in the second quarter, when sales of paddling pools rocketed 70% and more desk fans sold in a fortnight than during the whole of 2012.
Homebase delivered its best like-for-like performance in more than a decade - up 11% - as consumers splashed out on seasonal lines. Sales of barbecues, for instance, surged by 56%.
Terry Duddy, chief executive of parent company Home Retail Group, acknowledged that the hot summer had brought big benefits, but that Argos and Homebase were well prepared to take advantage of demand. “It takes a lot of good operational execution to deliver those results,” he said.
Argos’s development of multichannel shopping options, such as mobile and tablet apps, paid off as internet penetration rose from 42% to 44% of Argos’s total sales of £889m. Mobile commerce sales surged by 133% to account for 17% of the total.
Homebase’s total revenues increased by 9.3% to £400m in the quarter and Duddy said that big-ticket sales were “slightly ahead”.
Duddy said that Home Retail is approaching the vital Christmas period, when most of its sales are made, “in good operational shape” but cautioned that he expects consumer spending to remain “subdued”.