Like-for-like sales jumped 1.4% in June against a 0.6% fall a year ago as the Jubilee weekend drove shoppers on to the high street, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) – KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
Total sales were up 3.5%.
However, the BRC cautioned that following a bumper start to the month - when food and drink, clothing and footwear and online traded particularly strongly preceding the Jubilee - the remainder of the month was more challenging.
Online sales of non-food items surged 12.1%.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said the “bunting boost” demonstrates how “crucial” temporary factors are in difficult trading conditions.
He added: “With the first half of the year complete, we can see total sales growth between this January and June was no better than in 2011.
“It’s clear a permanent upturn in confidence and spending has yet to happen. Scrapping next month’s fuel duty rise will help hard-pressed customers and businesses. The Government needs to be equally supportive as it considers where next for other costs it controls.”
Food and drink sales were the strongest since Easter as the Jubilee drove sales of party foods such as crisps, cakes and dips while non-alcoholic drinks, wines, beers and spirits sold “very well”. Groceries then tailed off for the rest of the month.
Clothing sales were flat on last year, although the warmer weather lifted sales at the beginning of the month the rest was “challenging”. Some retailers commented that sales of seasonal lines were slow. Footwear followed a similar pattern to clothing and shoppers continued to favour value lines and plain styles.
KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson said: “Women’s clothing continues to find the going tough because fashion spending is especially discretionary and we’ve all forgotten what the sun looks like! The double whammy of uncertain sales levels and ongoing promotional activity continues to hit profits and cash flows.”
Sales of electricals, which have been weak for a while, received a nudge up due to Euro 2012 driving television sales.
Dickinson added that many retailers are looking towards the Olympics to help boost sales.
“But the reality is that any benefit from the Olympics will probably be concentrated in the South East and provide more of a boost for food than non-food. Overall there will be plenty of hype, a short term blip of benefit, and then back to normality and the challenges that brings,” Dickinson said.