Retail sales boost drives “renewed sense of optimism” in June

Retail sales in June

Retail sales in June have driven a “renewed sense of optimism” for the UK economy, showing promising recovery from last month’s four-year low.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that sales volumes jumped 1.5 per cent in the three months to June, rising significantly from the 1.4 per cent drop seen in the prior quarter.

Sales volumes in June excluding fuel also saw a three per cent rise year-on-year, as the warm weather sought to reinvigorate clothing sales.

Online sales also saw a 15.9 per cent increase year-on-year, accounting for 16.2 per cent of all retail spend during June.

The news comes days after similarly positive inflation figures, coming in below analyst expectations and reviving hope for the UK’s economy.

Clothing was thought to have been the driving factor towards the sales growth, as shoppers are drawn to summer ranges.

“A particularly warm June seems to have prompted strong sales in clothing, which has compensated for a decline in food and fuel sales for the month,” ONS senior statistician Kate Davies said.

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“Looking at the quarterly data, the underlying trend as suggested by the three-month on three-month movement is one of growth, following a fall in quarter one, suggesting a relatively flat first half of 2017.”

Senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown Ben Brettell added: “Given that falling real wages are continuing to squeeze household budgets, retail sales data is taking on extra significance at present as economists look for signs that consumer spending is coming under pressure.

“This news adds to a renewed sense of optimism on the UK’s economic prospects.

“Spending seems to be holding up despite falling real wages, and if the sterling-driven spike in inflation is finally receding, we could see a stronger contribution from the UK consumer in the second half of the year.”

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