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UK retail sales pick up slightly in May

Jun 13, 2024 United Kingdom
UK retail sales pick up slightly in May
UK retail sales rose by a modest 0.7% year-on-year in May, following an April that was hit by an early Easter and poor weather. Online non-food sales appear to have turned the corner, says the BRC
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), UK total retail sales increased by a modest 0.7% year-on-year in May, as compared to a growth of 3.9% in the same month of the previous year. However, while May’s sales were slightly above the 3-month average growth of 0.3%, they were below the 12-month average growth of 2.0%. In April, retail sales fell by 4.0% year-on-year.

Non-food sales declined by 2.4% year-on-year in the three months to May, as compared with growth of 0.7% in May 2023. This is steeper than the 12-month average fall of 1.7%. In particular, in-store non-food sales fell by 2.7% year-on-year in these three months, as compared with growth of 2.9% in May 2023, and remained below the 12-month average decline of 1.1%.

“Despite a strong bank holiday weekend for retailers, minimal improvement to weather across most of May meant only a modest rebound in retail sales last month. Although non-food sales fell over the course of the month, the long weekend did see increased purchases of DIY and gardening equipment, as well as strong clothing sales”, commented Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium

However, it is worth highlighting that online non-food sales grew by 1.5% year-on-year, compared with an average decline of 3.0% over the same period in 2023. This was higher than the 3-month and 12-month average falls of 1.8% and 2.6%, respectively. “After nearly three years, things may have turned a corner for online retailers, with year-on-year sales growth across most categories”, pointed out Linda Ellett, UK Head of Consumer, Retail & Leisure of KPMG.

Ellett is also optimistic about a recovery for the sector, despite the minimal sales growth. “Over the coming weeks retailers will be hoping that warmer weather, purchases related to summer holiday demand and Euro 2024 provide a stimulus to get consumers buying again”, she said. But she warns: “The economy may be improving, but the health of the sector remains fragile, with major investment held back by many until there are clear signs that consumer confidence has turned into spending”.


Image Credits: citybaseapartments.com


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