· The value of goods purchased in UK stores increased by 3.2% in the year to May 2014 and also decreased by 0.5% compared to April 2014
· The value of goods purchased online increased by 15.1% in the year to May 2014
Commenting on the retail sales data released today by the Office for National Statistics, Christian Spence, Head of Business Intelligence at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said:
"The latest retail sales data shows that consumers continue to have the confidence to increase their spending, helped by lower inflation particularly in automotive fuel whose price has fallen by over 2.2% in the past year. Inflation in other parts of the retail market is also subdued with food store inflation at just 0.4%, its lowest level for over eight years, driven by high competition within the supermarket sector. We expect the broad inflationary environment to remain low for the coming year and beyond and, as we expect real-terms wage growth to return this year, businesses in this sector can take comfort that disposable household income is likely to continue to rise.
"We continue to see strong growth in the online marketplace with internet sales increasing by 15.1% in the past year and at 26.5% for department stores. Whilst success is this space is being driven by larger companies who have formulated a successful strategy to merge "clicks and bricks", smaller retail businesses will welcome the news that they continue to be the fastest growing type of retail business with those who employ fewer than 10 employees seeing sales growth of 16.9%.
"The wider benefits of the economic recovery are now feeling embedded in most parts of the economy. We have recently revised up our growth forecasts for this year to 3% on the back of stronger first quarter construction output and we expect growth of 2.8% for 2015 and 2016. Our forecasts are driven by the Manchester Index, our key leading indicator from the Chamber's Quarterly Economic Survey whose latest data for Q2 2014 will be published on 4 July."