Strong sales of party food and clothes ahead of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations helped beleaguered retailers keep their heads above water in June.
Like-for-like sales rose 1.4% over the month, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said, after the Jubilee sparked the strongest week for grocery sales since Easter and a rare blast of sun drove sales of summer clothes.
But the rest of the month proved "challenging" as the wettest June on record kept shoppers at home and dampened demand for barbecues and gardening items, while even home improvement failed to gain a boost.
Despite inflation, like-for-like sales over the first half of 2012 grew just 0.8% on the previous year, highlighting the strain on the sector amid the squeeze in people's incomes.
– BRC director general Stephen Robertson
It was the bunting boost. June was saved by the feel-good lift of the Jubilee, showing how crucial these temporary factors are in our difficult trading conditions."
The Jubilee celebrations boosted sales of alcohol, crisps, cakes and dips, while the warm weather in the run-up to the event stimulated sales of summer fashion, such as shorts, dresses and sandals.
But the boost proved short-lived and the fortunes of the high street reversed amid grim weather in the wake of Jubilee.