Retail sales fell last month for the first time since January despite strong sales of replica football shirts, watches and jewellery, official figures have shown.
Sales fell 0.5 per cent month-on-month as it slowed from April’s ten-year high of 6.9 per cent, according to the Office of National Statistics.
The fall is in line with economics expectations after a late Easter holiday boosted the retail industry in April. Despite the monthly dip, sales were 3.9 per cent up on May 2013.
“It was another disappointing month for food and grocery retailers,” concluded Lloyds bank commercial banking MD Keith Richardson. “Although the prolonged discounting campaigns are good news for consumers, they continue to have a detrimental impact upon retailer’s margins and share price.”
Tesco, Morrisons and Asda have pledged to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in slashing prices of staple food products in a bid to see off pressure from discounters. Morrisons’ is in a £1bn process of transforming itself into a fully-fledged discount store while Tesco is spending £200m.
Sales of sports clothing and equipment soared in the run up to the tournament, up a an impressive 28.9 per cent year on year as World Cup fever gripped the UK.
Online retail jumped 1.5 per cent month-on-month to £727.7m in May and has risen 15.1 per cent compared with the same month last year. Food shopping online rose 12.9 per cent year-on-year while department store online spend rose 26.5 per cent. 3.7 per cent of all grocery shopping is now done online while the figure is higher in department stores (10.5 per cent.)
Online now accounts for around one in three purchases at department store John Lewis as sales jumped 22.6 per cent over Christmas, the latest figures available.