Retail sales bounce back after washout May

Retail sales bounced back by a healthy 1% in June in an unexpected boost for the sector, official figures show.

Monthly retail sales volumes jumped 1% after May’s 0.5% month-on-month drop in volumes driven by unseasonably cold weather, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS noted that the bounce in June came on the back of growth in non-food stores and a surprise increase in sales of second-hand goods.

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However department store sales declined for a sixth consecutive month, the worst such run in records that date back to the late 1980s.

Online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell to 18.9% in June 2019, from the 19.3% reported in May 2019.

Year-on-year figures also show a robust 3.8% increase to beat all forecasts, although sales over the three months to the end of June grew by just 0.7%, the weakest reading since the three months to February.

ONS statistician Rhian Murphy said: “Retail as a whole saw a return to growth in the month of June, mainly due to growth in non-food stores with increased sales in second-hand goods, including charity shops and antiques.”

Philipp Gutzwiller, head of retail at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Despite a dip in sales during the spring, these figures cap a relatively strong first half of the year for the majority of the UK’s retailers.

“Big-ticket purchases have generally remained on the back burner, but the appetite for smaller ‘feel good’ items such as homeware is clearly delivering healthy opportunities for some.”

The figures go against a British Retail Consortium survey that showed sales fell in the year to June.