Retailers experienced their best July in seven years in a “golden month” driven by warm weather and booming consumer confidence.
UK retail sales jumped 2.2% on a like-for-like basis in July against last year when they edged up 0.1% in July 2012.
On a total basis sales increased 3.9% against a 2% increase in July 2012, which is the fastest July growth since 2006, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph and sporting successes from the British Lions rugby team, Chris Froome in the Tour de France and in the Ashes cricket series had created a feel-good factor.
On a three-month average from May to July, food like-for-like sales increased 1.6% - their best performance in July for five years – while non-food like-for-likes were up 1.9%.
Like-for-like sales across all categories in the three-month average increased 1.8%.
Online sales growth fell back to 7.9% compared with July 2012 when they had risen 15.6% as shoppers shunned their computers in the warm weather.
The sunny weather boosted the food, fashion and health and beauty categories while dampening the home categories – furniture and flooring, home accessories and house textiles.
Sales of outdoor furniture were strong last month, making up for the slow start to the season and the disappointing spring. The heatwave sparked demand for fans and sprinklers, as well as gardening items in general, even outdoor paint.
Electricals suffered from relatively high comparatives, notably TVs and tablets seem to have reached a plateau in terms of growth, the monitor reported. Fridges and freezers did well in the hot weather, air conditioning systems spiked but gaming sales were poor as people preferred to enjoy outdoor activities.
Dickinson said: “This is a very solid sales performance, the second best month this year and better than we’ve seen in any July since 2006.
“It has been driven by the warm weather and retailers working hard to offer deep discounts and great offers to their customers, with the reduction in shop prices we reported for July translating into more generous spending in UK stores.
“Food has performed very strongly, with summer barbecue ingredients and feel-good foods doing well.”
She added: “Clothing has also had a very good month, which was down to good weather spurring summer fashion buys and some very good discounting.”
KPMG head of retail David McCorquodale said: “With autumn ranges now hitting the shelves, retailers need some cooler weather to encourage consumers to treat themselves to some new winter woollies. If they get these new ranges right and suitable weather, it could be game, set and match.”