Strong furniture sales in May despite the bad weather
Poor weather dented demand for fashion last month and falling prices continued to knock takings at grocers, leaving overall retail sales flat, according to industry figures.
The British Retail Consortium said sales values were unchanged from a year ago in May on a like-for-like basis, which adjusts for the impact of new store openings. Sales rose 1.1% in total terms.
There was support from strong furniture sales on the back of a buoyant housing market, but clothing and footwear suffered their deepest declines in total sales for eight months.
“With Easter distortions behind us, May’s retail sales figures were disappointingly flat,” said David McCorquodale, head of retail at the report’s co-authors, KPMG.
“Buoyed by a conclusive result in May’s general election, the housing market picked up, leading to stand out performances for furniture and homeware sales ... Elsewhere, footwear and fashion sales wilted against strong performances last year as consumers put off the summer wardrobe refresh as they waited for the unseasonably cool May weather to improve. Many retailers stretched out summer sales events and deepened discounts in order to try and entice consumers through the door.”
While several surveys have suggested consumer confidence is strong on the back of low unemployment and a gradual pick-up in wages, retailers face tight margins as shoppers look for discounts, particularly on food.