Retail sales boosted by soaring temperatures

Last month’s heatwave boosted demand for food, alcohol and clothing, pushing retail sales to the fastest growth in more than two years.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes during July were 3 per cent higher than a year ago, driven by the highest increase in food sales since April 2011.

The ONS said: “Feedback from supermarkets suggested that the sunny weather boosted sales across a range of products including food, alcohol, clothing and outdoor items.”

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Compared with June, sales volumes were 1.1 per cent higher in July, well ahead of analysts’ forecasts for a 0.7 per cent month-on-month increase.

Economists said the “feel-good” factor in the wake of Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory and the birth of Prince George will have contributed to the rise, but the heatwave was the most important factor in last month’s better-than-expected performance.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said: “This pace of growth of retail sales is unlikely to persist, but a further upturn in consumer confidence, an improving labour market, rising house prices and greater confidence that interest rates will stay low for longer should all help ensure that consumer spending plays a role in helping to sustain the economic recovery in coming months.”