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Heatwave knocks spending

Shoppers cut back on spending last month as temperatures kept them away from stores.

Sales rose by 1.6% in July compared with 2.2% in June, but this was thanks to sales of food and drinks, according to the British Retail Consortium. Food retailers reported their best sales for July in five years as households prepared for barbecues and picnics but the extra spending came at the expense of stores selling goods for the home.

In the three months to July, food sales were up by 4.5% while non-food sales declined by 1.2%.

‘Last month’s sweltering temperatures kept shoppers focused on eating, drinking and keeping cool. Food sales had their best July in five years, while fans and cooling equipment flew off the shelves,’ said Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive.

‘However, total sales growth slowed as the heat laid bare the underlying weakness in consumer spending. Sales of non-food products struggled. Three months into an extended period of summer weather, demand for many seasonal purchases has slowed while the heat has kept shoppers away from days spent browsing new ranges. For many in the industry, autumn could not come sooner.’