Like-for-like retail sales were flat in July when the start of extended opening hours for the Olympics combined with the warm weather at the end of the month helped food retailers, the British Retail Consortium–KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
The like-for-like rise compared to a 0.6% increase in July last year.
Total retail sales were up 2% compared to a 2.5% advance a year ago.
The three-month rolling average showed the growth of non-food sales outpaced food for the first time since May 2010. Like-for-likes respectively were 1% and 0.9% over three months.
Footwear was the strongest performer in the month, when new Autumn lines sold well as a result of the wet weather. Clothing also benefitted from the introduction of Autumn/winter and transitional ranges. Children’s clothing was the “stand-out” growth category in apparel with womenswear was the poorest performer.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “Consumers responded enthusiastically to the chance to refresh their wardrobes with items they could make use of straight away. Some retailers also benefited from the longer Sunday opening hours brought in for the Olympic period.”
A sharp fall in food price inflation dampened growth, but warm weather and celebrations for the Olympics supported food and drink sales.
Some electricals retailers commented that the Olympics provided a mild boost to TV sales, although it came later than anticipated. Clearance Sales also helped industry performance.
Robertson was hopeful Team GB’s medal tally could bring a “feelgood factor” and boos consumer confidence.
But KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson cautioned: “Sadly July was a lacklustre month and it’s doubtful this trend will change as early expectations that the Olympics will raise retailers’ fortunes look to be wide of the mark. Central London’s retailers are already being hit hard by shoppers actively avoiding the capital. It’s likely that any blip of benefit the games bring will be short lived.”
July was the strongest month for online growth of 2012 as sales surged 15.6% against 9.6% last year, helped by the cooler weather and competion between etailers which led to them sactrificing margin to attract more customers.