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Two weeks in retail - 14th August

Two days after the grand Olympics finale and it seems the Brits success in the medals table finally delivered the consumer confidence boost that retailers had been hoping for.

And it’s needed. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of annual inflation released by the ONS today showed that inflation rose in July – up from 2.4% in June to 2.6% in July and influenced largely by rises in transport and clothing and footwear.

The Retail Prices Index (RPI) also rose during the month – up from 2.8% in June to 3.2% in July. Both measures had previously fallen for three months in a row.

Meanwhile the latest results from the Retail Traffic Index, compiled by Ipsos Retail Performance, showed that the volume of shoppers in non-foodstores in July were down 5.2% against the same period last year although up 5.3% against the previous month.

Early reports are hopeful that the summer of sport has helped to boost confidence and get shoppers spending again though.

According to Springboard, footfall in central London rose by 8.3% year on year in the first weekend of August after the wins by Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah amongst others. The research house said the following day after their medal victories saw a 5.4% increase in footfall. It had followed “ghost town” reports for London in the previous weekend after worries of travel chaos.

West London also saw a footfall rise last Tuesday following the Triathlon event around Hyde Park. Footfall rose 13.5% year on year according to Experian.

The feel good factor seems to have translated through to spending too with a number of retailers reporting rises in trading. John Lewis last week reported a 22.4% leap in sales to £63.33 million for the week to August with a 51% rise in sales of Olympics merchandise whilst electrical sales at the retail giant rose by nearly a third – up by 31.2% -- and driven largely by the sales of large screen televisions.

Indeed according to a survey by Deloitte more than half (59%) of London retailers reported rises in shopper demand --- although it was lower than the 84% who anticipated a rise in January. Most said the increase in demand was coming from new customers.

According to the survey 55% of retailers increased stock levels, 41% increased trading hours and 68% said brought in specific promotions for the period.

Retailers will be waiting to see how the figures translate for August after the BRC reported UK retail sales values up 0.1% on a like for like basis from July 2011 with total sales up by 2% against a 2.5% rise in July 2011. It said warm weather in the final week of July, along with the combination of the start of the Olympics, boosted food and drink sales.

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