15 July 2015 - Janet Bird
Retail sales soared along with the temperature at the end of June, leading to the strongest retail sector performance for 18 months.
Figures published by the British Retail Consortium showed total spending up 2.9 percent up on the year, the best performing month since January 2014 if distortions due to when Easter falls are stripped out of the data.
The hot weather at the end of June, which led to a boost in sales of outdoor toys, contributed to toys and baby equipment being the best performing retail category. But the warmer weather also boosted the performance of fashion retailers who had begun their summer sales early.
Online retail performance was also impressive, with non-food sales rising 17.6 percent in June compared to the same period a year ago.
The encouraging growth does come with a health warning - last June's retail sales figures were particularly weak, making this year's seem more impressive by comparison - but the BRC feel it does reflect growing consumer confidence, perhaps boosted by a growth in the supply of credit, rising real incomes and low inflation.
BRC Director Helen Dickinson said: "We saw welcome signs of growing consumer confidence, with people more willing to 'trade-up' and spend a bit more on big-ticket purchases. Some of the measures outlined by the Chancellor in last week's budget are likely to help boost consumer confidence even further, with measures like the continued freeze in fuel duty and the increased personal tax allowance ensuring consumers have more money in their pockets to spend. We also welcome the Chancellor's focus on increasing productivity. This is of crucial importance to enhancing retailers' ability to continue to serve their customers better."