June cold snap leads to consumer spending slump

June’s poor weather saw consumer spending slump as shoppers gave up on their gardens and DIY and bought new televisions to watch the Uefa European Football Championship instead, figures show.

Total retail sales across the UK were down by 0.2% on last June, with sales of products other than food down 2.9% year on year, according to the BRC (British Retail Consortium)-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

Sales of weather-sensitive categories such as clothing and footwear, as well as DIY and gardening, were hit particularly hard, especially compared with the surge in spending during last June’s heatwave.

Electronics sales had a better month as football fans cheering on their national teams upgraded their home entertainment systems and people replaced their pandemic purchases.

Food sales were disappointing, up just 1.1% on last June and well below the 12-month average of 5.5%.

Linda Ellett, UK head of consumer retail and leisure at KPMG, said: “Summer may finally have arrived, but it did little to persuade consumers to hit the shops, with retail sales flatlining at 0.2% in June.

“Despite pressure on household finances easing, with petrol and energy costs and shop price inflation all continuing to fall, consumers remain incredibly reluctant to take the brakes off their spending.

“The stimulus of good weather, Wimbledon and Euro 24, which was hoped would drive consumer spending, has so far failed to materialise and financial concerns remain with many households.

“Retailers, who are running to stand still at the moment, having exhausted all of the levers they have at their disposal to cut costs and drive sales via promotions, will be looking to the new Government to boost the economy and confidence.”

Separate figures from Barclays show consumer card spending fell by 0.6% year on year in June – the first decline since February 2021 – as the colder weather early in the month hampered spending at clothing stores, pubs and garden centres.

However, the combination of cooler temperatures and new TV releases such as Bridgerton and House Of The Dragon boosted digital content and takeaways, while Inside Out 2 provided cinemas with a 122.4% boost on the weekend of its release.

The figures come as 39% of Britons say they have spent less than usual on summer products this year due to the weather.

Consumers also delayed home and garden renovations due to the cold snap, with spending on home improvements and DIY down by 9.4% and garden centres seeing a steeper drop of 12.7%.

Karen Johnson, head of retail at Barclays, said: “Once again, our data demonstrates the undeniable impact that unseasonable weather can have on consumer spending.

“The sluggish demand at the start of June even caused some fashion brands to adjust their sales schedules, although I was pleased to see that the situation has since improved with the arrival of sunnier days.

“However, the dreariness didn’t dampen spending across the board, with takeaways, digital content and entertainment all benefiting from people sheltering at home, and hopefully we’ll see sustained interest in the Euros – regardless of England’s fate – and sunnier weather driving people to their local in July.”