Sales and gales: our shops continue to take a battering

The weather is not helping the high street. Photo: Reuters

There has been just a 0.3% rise in sales between June and July. It is a lift but not much. It is propelled by big price cuts. The underlying picture remains gloomy.

Low confidence and high rainfall are a terrible cocktail for Britain's struggling retailers. Once again wet weather has meant that sales of seasonal cloths and products have not gone to plan. Only heavy discounting is shifting stick.

Even the start of the school holidays, often a time when clothing is bought for children, did not lift shops out of the doldrums. What became of the Olympic dividend that stores were so often promised?

Sales in July were up 2.8% compared with the same month last year. It's welcome but still very weak.

There is a glimmer of hope that sales began to lift a little towards the end of July, revealing some Olympic effect.

Merchandising and food sales may lift the sales figures for August. That "feel good factor" that the Games delivered may have a positive impact, boosting overall confidence in months to come.

But our struggling shops cannot live on hope. For many these tough months threaten to be their last.

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