Heatwave had 'positive' retail effect


Retail spending during the last month increased 3.4 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year, with food, drink and outdoor goods sales soaring as Britons sweltered in the heat, the latest figures show.

The monthly retail spending index from auditor KPMG and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reveals that despite July being officially the hottest month on record, with temperatures regularly breaching 35C, consumer spending remained healthy.

Food and drink sales reached their highest levels for three years.

However, retail sales during July 2005 were detrimentally affected by the London Underground bombings of the same month, with analysts widely predicting a comparative increase in spending.

But the hot weather did not benefit all businesses, with total sales growth falling from 6.8 per cent to 5.6 per cent, while the quarterly growth rate dropped one percentage point to 3.1 per cent.

Kevin Hawkins, the director general of the BRC, explained the food industry was driving consumer spending figures.

He said: "A lot of this growth, against a weak comparative a year ago, was driven by the food sector, helped by the weather, and heavy discounting across many product categories."

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