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.
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Thousands of fans - who could not fit inside the cathedral - listened to proceedings from outside.