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UK retail sales see a brighter outlook after April's heavy showers

A young lady in hat and floral dress smiles in front of a British flag display as a military ban plays in the background on the second day of Royal Ascot races
A young lady in hat and floral dress smiles in front of a British flag display as a military ban plays in the background on the second day of Royal Ascot races Copyright Kin Cheung/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Kin Cheung/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews
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Britain's changeable weather made a huge difference for shop sales in May as consumers ventured out again with the appearance of blue skies and a more hopeful meteorological outlook.

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UK retail sales rose sharply in May, boosted by an improvement in the weather after April's heavy showers kept shoppers indoors.

Sales volumes hit 2.9% in May, up from a revised 1.8% fall in April, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That was higher than expectations; a Reuters poll of economists had forecast sales volumes of 1.5%.

Compared with the same time last year, May's sales volumes were 1.3% higher, following a revised 2.3% fall in April. The ONS pointed out the sales growth might also have been affected by an extra public holiday last May, for King Charles III's coronation.

Andrew Wishart of Capital Economics said: "The strength was broad-based across the retail sector including online (+5.9% m/m) suggesting an underlying strengthening in sales beyond weather effects. 

"And with inflation falling back to target and consumer confidence improving, retail sales may well continue to strengthen.

"Overall, the retail sales data for May showed tentative signs that strengthening real income growth now inflation is back at target is feeding through to stronger spending. As long as inflation continues to behave, this might not prevent a rate cut in August, although a strengthening in activity could mean the pace of rate cuts thereafter is gradual."

Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell, said: "There's little wonder we Brits are obsessed with the weather. It exerts a huge amount of control over our lives, dictating what we can and can't do and, crucially for retailers, impacting our buying decisions.

The UK weather appears to have a leading when it comes to spending
The UK weather appears to have a leading when it comes to spending Kin Cheung/Copyright 2024 The AP.

"People have started to feel the benefit of falling inflation and are feeling more confident about spending the few extra pennies they're getting in their pay packets thanks to the cut in National Insurance and the increase in the National Living Wage.

"Consumer confidence will be crucial if the economy is to deliver the kind of growth all political parties say is needed to fund their manifesto promises [ahead of the General Election on 4 July]. 

"But the old saying about fixing the roof whilst the sun shines holds true, especially in the UK, and a wet summer could change everything."

 

 

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