• June sales well above forecasts
  • Consumer optimism defies gloomy backdrop
  • Cinemas set for bumper weekend

The UK consumer continues to surprise economists, with the latest retail spending figures showing sales by volume rose by 0.7% in June on a month-on-month basis against market expectations of just a 0.1% increase.

It seems as though the cost-of-living crisis has been part of daily life for so long, together with high inflation and rising interest rates, that consumers are now well used to it and are ‘keeping calm and carrying on’.


According to the ONS (Office for National Statistics), retail sales excluding fuel grew by 0.7% last month compared with 0.1% in May, with non-food store volumes sales rising by 1% against a 0.5% fall in May and food store volumes bouncing back with a 0.7% increase against a 0.4% fall in May.

In non-food categories department stores and furniture retailers reported summer promotions and higher footfall helped boost volumes, while in food sales were also helped by promotions and good weather.

On a year-on year basis, volume sales rose by 4.3% and were almost back to their levels of February 2020, while on a value basis sales were up 7.8% compared with last year and 20% higher than before the pandemic.

‘Overall, the positive trend for retail sales through the second quarter gives us cautious optimism for the outlook for the rest of 2023’, commented Lisa Hooker, leader of industry for consumer markets at consultants PwC.

‘Despite the cost-of-living crisis, wage and benefit increases have put more pounds in shoppers’ wallets just as inflation has started to ease. While the cost of most things is still higher than last year, the recent cuts in prices of essentials are making consumers feel more optimistic, and these figures are suggesting they’re starting to spend too. Retailers will be hoping the green shoots of spring and early summer continue to bloom as the year progresses.’


Meanwhile, in a month which has seen screenwriters and A-list stars demonstrating on the streets in Hollywood, there is at least some positive news for the film studios.

Cinema ticket sales are set to soar this weekend with the simultaneous release of the Warner Brothers (WBD:NYSE) film ‘Barbie’ and the World War Two biopic ‘Oppenheimer’ produced by Universal Pictures, part of Comcast Corporation (CMCSA:NASDAQ).

A picture of Margot Robbie playing the character of Barbie

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

According to Vue International founder and chief executive Tim Richards, advance bookings for the Greta Garwig-directed feature on the iconic Mattel (MAT:NASDAQ) doll have already overtaken those for the long-awaited James Cameron sequel ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ at more than $150 million.

Moreover, the National Association of Theatre Owners has reported that over 200,000 US moviegoers are intending to watch both films on the same day in cinemas across North America this weekend.

Industry website Deadline.com estimates this will be the third weekend this year of ticket sales exceeding $200 million – ‘more evidence that theatrical is back after Covid’, the site says.


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Issue Date: 21 Jul 2023