UK retails sales cool off due to poor may weather

UK retail sales growth slowed down last month as the lack of sunny weather dented demand for new clothes and shoes, whilst falling prices continued to knock takings at the grocers, leaving overall retail sales flat.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that clothing sales performed worse overall, suffering their deepest declines in total sales for eight months. Furniture sales experienced the biggest rise as the housing market looked more positive.

The flat sales picture for May comes as a setback for retailers after a weak performance the previous month, when comparisons with 2014 were distorted by the earlier timing of Easter. Sales had fallen 2.5 per cent on the year in April, the weakest performance for three years.[1]

The BRC had expected a bigger pick up in May and called the results “flat.”

“Buoyed by a conclusive result in May’s General Election, the housing market picked up leading to stand out performances for furniture and homeware sales,” David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said in a press release. “As economists predict another housing boom for the second half of 2015, these trends could be set to continue.”

The figures suggest that the upturn in the economy has still not filtered down to households, with retailers also increasingly concerned about the impact that George Osborne’s new austerity measures will have on consumer spending.[2]

However Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC said that rising furniture sales were an indicator of growing consumer confidence and food sales were positive as well.

[1] Katie Allen, Retail Industry, The Guardian, www.the
[2] Graham Ruddick, Companies, The Telegraph,