UK Retail Sales Wane Under Wet Weather’s Influence

UK Retail Sales Wane Under Wet Weather’s Influence

In recent news, the United Kingdom’s retail sector has experienced a dampening in sales growth due to an extended period of wet weather. Retail sales saw a modest increase of 1.1% in February, a slight deceleration from the growth observed in the previous month. This slowdown has been attributed to the impact of record rainfall on consumer demand

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Analysts had initially predicted a 0.5% decline in retail sales volumes; however, the actual figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicated a more significant drop of 1.2% month-on-month in July. This decrease in sales volumes is more pronounced than the 0.6% rise reported in June, which was spurred by the hottest June on record, leading to increased sales in food and furniture despite ongoing budgetary pressures.

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The wet conditions, described as the sixth-wettest July since records began, resulted in a 170% increase in the average rainfall for the month, likely making it the wettest July since 2009. The ONS noted that non-food retailers were particularly affected, with a reported 1.7% drop in sales. Supermarkets experienced the most significant impact, with a 2.6% decrease in sales as both clothing lines and food sales declined

Shoppers walk along a pedestrianised shopping area in Birmingham, UK.
The shift in consumer behavior towards online shopping due to the poor weather, coupled with online discounts, led to 27.4% of retail sales occurring online in July, up from 26% in June. This marks the highest level of online sales since February 2022.

Inflation, which stands at an annual rate of 6.8% based on the latest figures for June, continues to influence the retail landscape. The amount of money spent is now 16% higher than pre-pandemic levels, yet the volume of goods purchased is 2% lower than in February 2020.

Retailers are bracing for continued lower demand in the coming months, despite signs of slowing inflation and potential improvements in household finances. With significant increases in labor costs and business rates on the horizon, the retail sector is hopeful for positive developments in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget to stimulate a revival in high street spending

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Source : The Wall Street Journal

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