By Daniel Hunter
The continued good weather has seen UK retail sales values increase 2.2% on a like-for-like basis from July 2012, when they had increased 0.1% on the preceding year.
On a total basis, sales were up 3.9%, against a 2.0% increase in July 2012, the fastest July growth since 2006. In real terms, total growth was 4.4%, the fastest since April 2011.
The sunny weather boosted the food and fashion categories while dampening the home categories — Furniture & Flooring, Home Accessories and House Textiles — as well as internet sales.
Online sales were up 7.9% compared with July 2012, when they had risen by 15.6%.
"This is a very solid sales performance, the second best month this year and better than we've seen in any July since 2006," Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said.
"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 during a month where the Lions, Murray, Chris Froome in the Tour de France and the start of the Ashes series all contributed to the positive summer feeling. Clothing has also had a very good month, which was down to good weather spurring summer fashion buys and some very good discounting.
"While we know that the picture is still variable and the High Street in particular continues to face considerable challenges, these positive results will be welcomed in town centres around the country that depend so much on retailers performing well."
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "July was a golden month for retail sales and marks a return to form for British retailers. Hopefully this uptick in sales is another indication that the UK economy has turned the corner towards growth.
"Murray mania, summer sun and the arrival of the royal baby gave consumers that much needed feel good factor, encouraging them to leave caution behind and help retailers put in a champion performance.
"Sales of food and drink soared as consumers popped open the bubbly and held barbecues to celebrate the royal family's newest arrival, Murray's Wimbledon triumph and the warm delights of summer.
"For the British consumer, it seems good things come in threes! Whilst this month's figures will be a relief after last year's washout summer saw shoppers stay at home, some of these sales were heavily driven by discounting. Whether retailers have sacrificed too much margin to drive these sales remains to be seen.
"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."
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