UK retail sales “make a comeback in May”
UK retail sales in May saw their highest growth since January 2014, with a rebound for both the online sector and the high street, according to the latest Retail Sales Monitor report from BRC and KPMG.
Helen Dickinson, the Chief Executive of BRC, said: “Better weather and the bank holiday effect led shoppers to buy from garden furniture and summer fashion ranges; recovering some of the ground lost in April. Food sales also stood out with the best single month’s performance since July 2013. Encouragingly, growth was seen across channels as stores made a comeback with their best showing in 16 months.”
Dickinson cautioned that there are still challenges ahead for the High Street: “Despite this more positive set of sales results, the retail environment remains extremely challenging, with trend growth still very low by historical standards. Retailers remain focused on investing in new and exciting shopping experiences for the future as margins remain tight and the competition fierce.”
Paul Martin, Head of Retail, KPMG, also balanced a cautious welcome for the May rebound with warning on the risk of complacency: “May provided a much needed uplift to retail performance delivering a respectable 4.1 per cent growth. Two bank holiday weekends, a Royal wedding and of course sunnier spells will have been the main drivers behind the apparent rebound, with both online and high street sales thankfully up overall.
“Grocery sales once again continued to be strong, boosted by added enthusiasm for picnics and barbeques. Elsewhere, appetite for non-food categories, including fashion, also experienced a welcome uplift. That said, the picture was less favourable in the larger discretionary categories such as home improvement and furniture.
“While the month’s figures may paint a rosier picture, there is no room for complacency. The market is increasingly being split into winners and losers, with a number of legacy players continuing to face extremely challenging conditions. As such, focusing on transforming businesses both operationally and financially is pivotal.”