Queen Elizabeth's platinum jubilee slowed decline in UK retail sales

Celebrations for the queen's jubilee were held across the country over a four-day weekend

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Celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth's platinum jubilee helped put the brakes on falling UK retail sales, official figures show.

Street parties, pageants and parades were held over a four-day weekend at the start of June, bringing communities together and, crucially for the economy, spending money.

Food sales recorded a significant boost as retails sales fell by 0.1 per cent, the Office for National Statistics said.

However, the boost in the food trade was more than offset by another slump in fuel sales.

A consensus of economists had predicted a 0.2 per cent fall in the latest monthly reading.

It came after a heavier than previously thought slump in retail sales in May, with the ONS revising down its original prediction of a 0.5 per cent decline to a fall of 0.8 per cent.

Inflation is currently at 9.4 per cent, with a 50 basis points increase in the Bank of England's interest rate expected to come soon.

Heather Bovill, ONS deputy director for surveys and economic indicators, said: “After taking account of rising prices, retail sales fell slightly in June and although they remain above their pre-pandemic level, the broader trend is one of decline.

“After a fall in May, food sales picked up due to the jubilee celebrations, but this was the only sector to report an increase.

“Fuel sales fell back considerably with retailers reporting the record high prices at the pump hitting sales.

“Clothing purchases dipped along with household goods, with retailers suggesting consumers [were] cutting back on spending owing to higher prices and concerns around affordability.”

Food store sales volumes increased by 3.1 per cent, picking up following a recent downward trend for the sector as more people returned to restaurants following the easing of pandemic restrictions.

In previous months, retailers had highlighted a decline in volumes because of the increased cost of products and pressure on household bills.

Sales at non-food stores dropped by 0.7 per cent for the month, driven by a 4.7 per cent drop in sales volumes at clothing stores, while household goods were down 3.7 per cent.

Fuel sales also saw a particularly sharp drop for the month, falling 4.3 per cent in response to a record jump in petrol prices in June.

The sales decline was the biggest since October last year, when labour shortages and supply constraints led to shortages at forecourts across the UK.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “The cost-of-living crunch caused by record inflation continue to damage consumer confidence and stifle household spending.

“Discretionary spending and particularly bigger purchases were put off as consumers become increasingly concerned about the future.”

Updated: July 22, 2022, 8:17 AM
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