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ONS figures for June have shown a rise in UK retail sales volumes

UK retail sales volumes grew for the second consecutive month in June buoying hopes that a consumer-led recovery may occur despite food and clothing retailers’ sales falling in the same period, official figures have shown.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published today showed that overall retail volume sales in June grew 0.2% compared with May, yielding year-on-year growth of 2.2%. In contrast grocery sales fell by 0.1% and clothing sales fell 0.3%.

The ONS indicated that price promotions, particularly in department stores, drove much of the “upward pressure”.

“This offers further evidence that tentative signs of a consumer-led recovery are beginning to take hold. Although there are wide variations in individual retailers’ fortunes and on-going volatility from week to week, it’s good news that the ONS figures confirm cautious optimism as they reflect the results of the BRC’s Retail Sales Monitor earlier in July,” said British Retail Consortium director general, Helen Dickinson.

“Promotional activity has been strong and customers can find some great deals in the shops at the moment. As the good weather continues across the country, retailers will be hopeful that customers continue to take advantage of the offers that are available,” she added.

KPMG’s UK head of retail David McCorquodale sounded a note of caution on the figures: “It seems that this month’s rise in sales has been driven by intense promotional activity by the department stores.  What we don’t know is what the long-term effect of these promotions will be. Yes, they are driving sales, but at what cost to margins and the health of retailers?”