Customers shopping for summer clothing in May helped boost retail sales volumes by 0.9% more than was predicted by industry analysts.
Clothing sales had suffered the previous month due to unseasonably cold weather. However, the improved weather throughout the month of May led to a 4.3% month-on-month rise in the UK retail sector, according to official figures produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS stated that the retailing boom in May represented a six per cent rise compared to the same period in 2015. Industry analysts had only predicted a monthly rise of 0.2%.
However, average prices at stores (including petrol stations) across the UK actually fell by 2.8% compared to 2015, as retailers battle to entice customers into their shops. Samuel Tombs, the chief economist for the UK at Pantheon Macroeconomics said that the lower prices was the main reason why there has been a year-on-year increase in sales volumes. Growth in retail sales volumes, therefore, is likely to slow markedly in the second half of this year, Mr Tombs added.
Retail sales in the online sphere also rose ‐ jumping 6.4% from April and 21.5% compared to May 2015. Scott Bowman, the UK economist at Capital Economics, said of the ONS figures: Even a significant fall in sales in June would see growth in the second quarter above the 1.3% rate experienced for the first quarter [of 2016].
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