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Last Updated: Monday, 9 July 2007, 23:01 GMT 00:01 UK
Retail sales 'withstand' weather
Ship in Bentley, Yorkshire
Many shops were hit by flooding across England and Wales
Last month's appalling weather did not have as severe an impact on the High Street as feared, figures have shown, although clothes sales were badly hit.

Total sales rose 5.1% in June compared to 2006, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said, while like-for-like sales rose 4.6% - up on both May and April.

But it said the figures were distorted by discounting as shoppers bought items anticipating more interest rate rises.

Successive rate rises have put growing pressure on household budgets.

Discounting

This has turned the screw on many retailers with a host of firms, including grocery store Kwik Save and clothing business Hawkshead, going into administration recently.

The better-than-expected rise in both overall and like-for-like sales - the latter excluding newly opened stores - was the best performance since March.

But retail analysts said the figures masked huge variations in performance with some retailers struggling badly and many getting by on heavy discounting.

They also pointed out that comparisons with June 2006 were misleading since sales of non-food items that month had been particularly weak due to a general preoccupation with the football World Cup.

"Higher than expected overall growth has been achieved by heavy discounting of non-food goods which has tempted consumers to bring forward major purchases in anticipation of more rate rises," Kevin Hawkins, the BRC's director-general, said of the figures.

On a three-month basis, the overall rate of sales growth slowed to 4.6% from 5% last month while like-for-like sales growth eased to 2.5% from 2.8%.

The wettest June in history hit sales of clothes, footwear, food and DIY equipment.

But department stores did benefit from increased trade in homewares and other goods as outdoor activities were curtailed in favour of shopping.




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