UK: CBI reports Diamond Jubiliee boost for retail sales

A DIAMOND Jubilee boost saw retail sales grow at their fastest pace in 18 months in June, business group the CBI said today.

A balance of 42% of retailers reported sales volumes up on a year ago in the first two weeks of June, the highest reading since December 2010, the CBI said.

The survey period covered the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which saw an additional bank holiday, as consumers splashed out on extra food and drink for the celebrations.

Judith McKenna, chair of the CBI distributive trades panel, said: “The Jubilee provided a much-needed boost to our high streets with many families and communities making the most of the Bank Holiday and coming together to celebrate.”

The figures good news for the wider economy which fell into a technical recession in the first three months of the year as GDP shrank 0.3%, following a 0.3% contraction in the final quarter of 2011.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for May showed retail sales volumes increasing 1.4%, driven by heavy discounting, particularly in department stores. Chris Williamson, chief economist at financial information services firm Markit, said: “The message from the official and survey data combined is that retail sales may have risen by at least 1% in the second quarter, which should have provided a welcome boost to the flagging economy and may even help the country lift out of its double-dip recession.”