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Retail sales cool off as wet weather dampens spirits on high street

KIRKCALDY, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Shoppers walk through Kirkcaldy High Street in the constituency of British Prime minister Gordon Brown on February 15, 2010 in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. As the UK gears up for one of the most hotly contested general elections in recent history it is expected that that the economy, immigration, the NHS and education are likely to form the basis of many of the debates. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Retail sales data shows that non-food stores in May saw a slight increase by comparison to April, however the sector-by-sector breakdown paints a different picture.

Clothing and department stores both reported monthly sales declines of 2.5% and 6.7% respectively, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed, with jewellery stores presumably following a similar trend.

The ONS theorises that the opening of indoor hospitality may have impacted food store sales which saw a decline, but it could also have drawn shoppers into the warmth of pubs and restaurants rather than high street shops.

Maddy Alexander-Grout, founder of the small retail business national discount scheme, My VIP Card, commented: “Even though it couldn’t match April, when non-essential retail reopened, one of the wettest Mays on record provided a certain boost to retailers, as being inside shops you could at least take a break from the rain.

“In recent weeks, the retail businesses we work with have seen a fall in sales, probably due to the much improved weather drawing people to outdoor activities.

“Every retailer, like businesses in other sectors, has one eye on what’s going to happen when the furlough scheme is stopped.

“Looking forward, local councils need to think of ways to bring more people into the high street, in the form of free parking, bus ticket reductions, and somehow make the high street more of a destination rather than just about shopping.

“Retailers need help to secure footfall and councils have the power to help.”


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