April’s retail hangover continued into May

The effect of poor weather seen in April which forced interiors retailers to cut prices to attract shoppers continued to play out in May.

Shoppers made the gardening and DIY purchases they had planned for in April and also invested in replacing personal computing equipment bought during lockdown, according to the BRC/KPMG.

‘Despite a strong bank holiday weekend for retailers, minimal improvement to weather across most of May meant only a modest rebound in retail sales last month. Although non-food sales fell over the course of the month, the long weekend did see increased purchases of DIY and gardening equipment, as well as strong clothing sales,’ says Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive.

‘Growth in computing sales reached their highest levels since the pandemic, with many consumers continuing to upgrade tech bought during that period.’

‘Whilst May’s figures show barely positive increases in retail sales, with less than one percent growth year-on-year, the impact of falling CPI – which means volumes are not declining as quickly, may help to soften the blow for hard-working retailers. Health, personal care, beauty and computing continued to sell well, whilst women’s and children’s clothing also saw small increases in sales. After nearly three years, things may have turned a corner for online retailers, with year-on-year sales growth across most categories, including toys and baby equipment and house textiles,’ says Linda Ellett, KPMG retail and leisure UK head of consumer.

Total sales rose 0.7% in the four weeks to 25 May, compared to 3.9% in 2023. Food sales increased 3.6% during the three months to May, against a growth of 9.5% last year. Total non-food sales dropped 2.4% over the quarter, up on the 12-month average decline of 1.7%. In-store non-food sales fell 2.7% in the three months to May, against a growth of 2.9%, while online sales edged up 1.5%, compared with a 3% decline in 2023.

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