World Cup and a flaming June heighten consumer demand

Shoppers splashed out on party food and televisions last month as football fever gripped swathes of the UK, according to retail sales figures today.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the World Cup and perfect barbecue weather for some areas gave a welcome boost to retailers in June, with early clearance sales adding to the high street cheer. Its latest BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor showed a 1.2 per cent hike in like-for-like sales last month - marking the strongest result since March.

The BRC said that while clothing and footwear slowed after a surge in May, there was strong demand for outdoor, DIY and leisure goods.

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Television sets were also top sellers as football fans looked to take advantage of promotions on flat screens - although sales south of the Border petered out after England's early exit.

The World Cup lifted sales of ready meals, pizza and "party favourites", while salads and barbecue foods were top sellers amid the summer sunshine.

Stephen Robertson, BRC director general, said the sector enjoyed "decent" sales growth last month, especially against a very strong June last year when hot weather also lifted sales.

He said the Chancellor's Budget blow was already affecting confidence, but that the full impact would not hit spending until the measures - such as a VAT rise to 20 per cent - come into effect.

Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, said: "While the emergency Budget has delayed any impact of the VAT rise until later this year/early next, the effect of the wider fiscal tightening measures on consumer spending remains to be seen. The risk is all on the downside."

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