In contrast to rain-soaked April, May arrived in Britain with sunshine in tow and brought a much-needed respite to the retail sector. Not only did online sales growth gather pace again but total UK retail sales returned to positive territory, including on a like-for-like basis, the May edition of the KPMG-BRC Retail Sales Monitor shows.
Online sales have been growing steadily, rarely missing the double-digit mark lately. One such rare occasion was this April, which proved the wettest since records began and managed to dampen consumers’ e-shopping spirit as well. UK online sales increased by 9% in April, rather a disappointment after the 14% rise a year earlier. However, May saw them return to double-digit growth, jumping by 12.4% compared to 10.4% last May, KPMG and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported.
More importantly, last month witnessed a recovery in overall UK retail sales, possibly due to the combination of sunny weather and advance shopping for the Jubilee celebrations and upcoming summer events. Like-for-like sales climbed 1.3% versus a drop of 2.1% last May, while total sales grew by 3.4% against a 0.3% slip a year earlier.
Commenting on the results, BRC director general Stephen Robertson said that the overall improvement may have been partly due to pent-up demand created during the rainy period. The sunny spell rekindled the British shopping spirit, giving a significant boost to sales of summer clothing and outdoor leisure and gardening wares. Robertson also noted that shopping via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets was responsible for much of the growth and some retailers were helping to feed the trend by encouraging consumers to use smartphones in-store.