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Consumer Trends  

Follow the light!

The big ball of flames in the sky lured people out of their homes and back into shops in the summery month of May
 UK sales boosted by May heatwave
 
 

UK high street stores experienced a minor resurgence last month following a dire April, and it seems, despite the recession, that there is only one thing determining Britons’ spending habits at present: the traditionally unpredictable UK weather.

The ridiculous swings in temperature and weather types typify the ‘great British summer’ and although the beginning of May followed on from the horrid April showers, the back-end of the month saw a complete turnaround which saw temperatures soar above the average expected figures. This, in turn, led to a boom in sales of barbecues, shorts, flip flops and outdoor activities, retailers have announced.

The British Retail Consortium and KPMG released the figures, indicating that overall sales rose 4.3 percent on last year’s figures, which although being tainted by significantly dismal figures in May 2011, still represents a much needed change in trends for high street stores.

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This upturn in fortunes is set to continue over the coming months too as the weather makes way in the news for some particularly exciting events. It  has already been widely reported that the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee saw sales of specific items go through the roof in amongst the excitement, while the upcoming European football Championships looks set to continue the feel-good factor for the country in general (until they begin playing of course). Once the dust has settled on that sporting tournament though, the UK’s attentions will then switch towards the London Olympics which is also predicted to produce a boom in sales for high street retailers across the country.

This is a very welcome respite for retailers during the current economic crisis, as consumer confidence continues to struggle against the difficult conditions.

Stephen Robertson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium explained:  “Much of the month’s positive performance can be attributed to spending in the final week when consumers responded enthusiastically to the sun coming out.

“Small numbers of customers buying jeans and knitwear in the first weeks of May became many more people purchasing skirts, shorts and swimwear by the end of the month.”

Helen Dickinson, KPMG’s Head of Retail agreed that the upturn was necessary in stemming the overall tide within the industry in the UK at present.

“Retailers are hoping that the Jubilee celebrations will have helped to pull out them of the mire, but a short-term patriotic spending spree will not overcome the underlying difficulties facing the industry - which remains under pressure from a combination of declining consumer confidence and squeezed incomes.”

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