Ray of sun for retailers but rain does not always bring pain for city shops
PUBLISHED: 18:00 05 June 2018 | UPDATED: 18:00 05 June 2018
May brought a ray of sunshine for retailers amid a gloomy outlook as better weather – and two bank holidays – delivered the strongest growth seen for more than four years.
Shoppers flocked to garden centres, soaked up the sun in pub beer gardens and splashed out on summer wardrobes to see sales increase by 4.1% year-on-year in May, compared to a 0.2% rise in May 2017.
This was the highest increase since January 2014, excluding Easter distortions, according to the findings in the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG retail sales monitor.
It came as a stark contrast to the heavy snow and icy weather back in February and March which came with the Beast from the East and dented footfall.
In April, total retail sales had shrunk sharply by 3.1% year-on-year, with the cold weather seen as partly to blame for households tightening their belts.
Eric Kirk, chairman of Magdalen Street and Anglia Square Traders’ Association (Mata), said weather is a big driver in shoppers’ behaviour but not always as people expect.
He said: “If you have a couple of days of heavy snow footfall does not go down at the same rate.
“People that need things still go out and face the weather, what it does do is stop the window shoppers.
“It definitely does have an impact on people’s attitudes, willingness to leave the house and on how much they move from shop to shop.”
While the sun can help bring people out Jonty Young, marketing manager for Norwich Lanes, said in Norfolk it also took potential shoppers away to the coast.
He said: “What we have got on our side is a lot of medieval architecture, museums and art galleries so there is something to do for people on holiday when the weather isn’t so good.
“When the good weather comes people head for the coast, which you can’t blame them for, but when the bad weather comes they may head into the city instead.”
A report from Barclaycard said consumer spending grew by 5.1% year-on-year in May.
Spending in garden centres surged by 50.3% over the three-day early May bank holiday weekend compared with the same long weekend in 2017. DIY spending was up by 19.7%, spending in pubs jumped by 19% and supermarket spending increased by 10.1%.