Sunny spell boosts May retail sales

The fortnight of good weather at the end of last month has saved May from being a total economic wash-out, says the BRC. Like-for-like retail sales are up 1.3%.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
Finally, a little light relief. The British Retail Consortium has reported rising retail sales in May, up 1.3% on the like-for-like scale (sales at stores open more than a year) or 3.4% overall. The chief architect of this urge to splurge? The fleeting few days of hot weather. As the sun came out, so did shoppers, stocking up on summer togs, lawnmowers and things to incinerate on the BBQ.  

It’s a vast improvement on the dire retail figures reported in April, when sales were down 1%. And there could be more good news yet to come, as the patriotic spending spree that was the Diamond Jubilee, and the impact of the upcoming Euro 2012 and Olympics start to show on the high street ledger.

The rosier results (and weather) may be only short-term, but BRC director general Stephen Robertson reckons that’s better than nothing: ‘As the relentlessly difficult underlying conditions continue to make trading tough for retailers, any temporary boost is of even greater importance,’ he says.

Or perhaps it’s not so temporary, after all. A new survey from manufacturing lobby EEF says that companies expect output and orders to rise over the next three months. ‘Despite the problems closer to home, manufacturers are building on successful strategies to access growth opportunities in new markets,’ says EEF chief economist Lee Hopley. Although, it’s worth noting that EEF has nonetheless revised down growth forecasts for the year, predicting accelerated growth in 2013 instead.

Have the retail sales rises and (slightly) optimistic manufacturing data been enough to convince the Bank of England to hold off more quantitative easing asset purchases today? It has indeed...

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