Ecommerce benefited in June as Jubilee bank holiday rain drove shoppers inside to home comforts such as their PC. June online sales rose by 12.1%, compared to the same month last year, the British Retail Consortium said today.
The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for the month showed a 1.4% like-for-like rise in the value of UK retail sales, while total sales rose by 3.5%, on last year.
The monitor showed that preparations for Jubilee celebrations and warm weather early in the month boosted overall UK sales in the run-up to the bank holiday. But the rest of the month was “much more challenging” for retailing as a whole.
“It was the bunting boost,” said Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium. “June was saved by the feelgood lift of the Jubilee, showing how crucial these temporary factors are in our difficult trading conditions.”
But the story was more positive online, where, said Robertson: “The build-up to the Diamond Jubilee delivered the biggest benefit to retailing overall but, because it was wet, the extra bank holiday boosted online retailing while failing to do much for store sales.
“People spent more time indoors, able to access online retailers easily, rather than brave the miserable conditions outside.”
Multichannel retailers did benefit, however. “Those retailers that are offering a sophisticated multichannel operation found reserving online to collect in store continued to show strong growth," said Robertson. "Customers’ use of mobile devices is also expanding very rapidly but from a low base.”
Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, said most sectors had benefited ahead of the Jubilee. But, she added: “Women’s clothing continues to find the going tough because fashion spending is especially discretionary and we’ve all forgotten what the sun looks like.
“Retailers are fervently hoping that the summer of sport will raise cash for their coffers. But the reality is that any benefit from the Olympics will probably be concentrated in the South East. Overall there will be plenty of hype, a short term blip of benefit and then back to normality and the challenges that brings.”
Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of the grocery analysts IGD, said that the first week of June was the second biggest this year, after Easter, for food and grocery sales. But that fizzled out as the rain fell, and retailers were now looking ahead to the Olympics. “While shoppers are prepared to treat themselves during big events, in these tough times value still remains important. Over half of shoppers (53%) told us they are only interested in products featured in a themed event if they are on promotion.”